Reasons to Continue to Evaluate the Plans for the Proposed Solar Farm at Camp Buxton
In response to Mr. Siegel’s explanation of the proposed Solar Farm at Camp Buxton at 90 Pond Street, I would like to make it known that there are significant reasons to continue to evaluate the plans and possibly reject them. Residents in proximity have serious reservations and concerns about the project due to its affect on the critical natural landscape and surrounding wetlands. To be fair, the applicant is currently in compliance with Fish and Game and town conservation concerning the wetlands and protected species but there appear to be more errors in the designs which violate current bylaws for this type of project. Such errors demand revision and the required resubmission to appropriate agencies for review. Other such concerns are not limited to the funding supplied by the applicant for removal of the array if the company fails. Residents have been told that there is a plan for removal with funds provided by the applicant but the number seems low. Also there is no way to know that if in 20 years such funding will be enough to remove products that are toxic. I am not sure how the planning board can calculate the projected recycled value of such waste in 20 years time. Further explanation is needed. Considering the Summer Street farm which is non operational and has become nothing more than a town eyesore, it might just be time to augment the town laws to prevent such operations and clear cutting from coming into a right-to-farm community.
Mr. Roach stated that these other farms brought in 138,000 dollars of tax revenue for the town but this might not be totally accurate. Has the town considered the loss of tax revenue from the decrease in home values located in proximity to these farms? Do those losses offset and if so aren’t we just trading our trees for pennies? There is evidence that home values do decline within 1 mile of such projects. The point here is that more research should be done. The board has clearly worked hard on this and expended a lot of time and energy. They should see it all the way through. Per bylaw, the board can ask the applicant to provide funding for further study. They can also request the applicant to pay for outside consolation to resolve other issues.
Faced with mounting concern from local residents, Mr. Cooper has repeatedly said that the board must follow the bylaws and that is not the member’s job to sell the idea to the public but Mr. Roach appears to be doing just that. The board cannot have it both ways. The town bylaws are clear. The board can reject projects that are deemed, “ offensive, detrimental or inappropriate to adjacent properties or to the neighborhood or for a use which does not substantially serve public health, safety, convenience, welfare or property values in the neighborhood.” If they don’t due their due diligence now, the town could eventually be left with a near 40 acre deforested area which generates nothing but animosity. Once the trees are cut and the land cleared you cannot go back.
If the board isn’t supposed to base their decision on what they personally believe then there is no need for Mr. Roach to use a fear tactic by stating, “from start to decommissioning it will have less of an impact on the neighborhood than the usual subdivision development, “ We don’t know it that is true and to my knowledge there has been no plan proposed for subdivision at 90 Pond Street. Due to the surrounding, protected wetlands who can say it is even possible to make subdivisions or to assume that the Boy Scouts want to lease their land for such projects? Locals will not be scared into allowing another failed project with faulty planning to slide through the planning board. The will of the people matters. Many who live here do so to avoid living in proximity to these projects. Even if the proposal goes through, at the very least it should meet the standards set. The most recent meetings have proven that at a minimum, the applicant has a long way to go and that they do not have the backing of the local community.