Vasssalboro planners approve three applications

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro Planning Board members unanimously approved all three applications on their Sept. 7 agenda, including what board Chairman Virginia Brackett said was the fourth application presented for a solar array in town.

The board previously approved a solar farm on Route 32 between North and East Vassalboro, which has been built. An application for a development west of Cemetery Street was presented in January and approved in June.

In March, board members granted the applicant for a Riverside Drive solar array a one-year permit extension, to allow more time to negotiate the necessary agreement to connect to Central Maine Power Company (CMP) lines.

Sunvest, a company with main offices in Illinois and Wisconsin, was represented at the Sept. 7 meeting by Bill French, regional director for project development, who previously appeared before the board in April.

The Sunvest project is on David and Jennifer Jones’ farmland on the east side of Webber Pond Road about 1,500 feet south of the Bog Road intersection, French said. The company plans to lease about 40 acres of a 93-acre parcel and use about 18 acres for solar panels that will turn to follow the sun — “single-axis tilt” panels, in French’s words.

As with other projects in town, it is expected to last at least 25 years and probably longer. As with other projects, its impacts are expected to be minimal. French and board members discussed buffers around the array; non-reflective panel surfaces to avoid glare; lack of noise and traffic (once construction is finished); and absence of dust, odor, trash, effects on soil, water and groundwater or other disturbances to neighbors or the environment.

Board members approved the permit with two conditions:

Sunvest is to submit a plan acceptable to the codes officer for screening in two areas on the north and west sides where natural screening is inadequate; and
The Town of Vassalboro is to be added as a secondary beneficiary, after the landowners, on the bond that guarantees removal of the panels and supports when the lifetime of the solar array ends.
Sunvest, too, needs a connection agreement with CMP. French did not know how long negotiations might take.

The other two applications approved Sept. 7 were:

From Lisa Polevoy, to enlarge a deck at 111 Sandy Point Road in the Three Mile Pond shoreland area; and
From Judith Elderkin and Christopher Ingalls, to remove a recreational vehicle and deck and replace them with a recreational vehicle of the same size or smaller, without deck; and to repair a shed. Their property is at 107 McQuarrie Road in the Webber Pond shoreland area.

Codes Officer Paul Mitnik, who has tried repeatedly to retire, told board members town officials are considering hiring a person without experience, whom Mitnik will train over the next several months.


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