WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday will consider taking first votes to approve leases for the landfill and former Runser properties on Webb Road so solar arrays may be installed there, which would reap the city thousands of dollars in annual revenue.

The landfill property installation could produce 20 megawatts and the former Runser property installation 5 megawatts, according to City Manager Michael Roy. The solar energy would be going out of state.

The city could collect two forms of revenue from the leases with hep energy USA LLC, the company that wants to lease the properties: a per-acre rental amount for leasing the property and taxes on the equipment installed, according to Roy.

The council meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Chace Community Forum in the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St. and will be preceded by an executive session at 6:45 p.m. to discuss labor negotiations.

Roy said the landfill property covers 130 acres and the former Runser property 28 acres, and the city would receive $425 per acre, per year, for the leases. He referred further questions about revenue calculations for the equipment taxes to City Assessor Paul Castonguay. However, Castonguay was out of the office Monday.

“This is a project we’ve been working on for about two years now,” Roy said. “I think we’re very fortunate to have someone come forward with a re-use plan for our landfill, a piece of property that would be very difficult to use otherwise. What’s being proposed is a revenue-generating proposal, not only with a per acre rent fee but also taxation on equipment installed. So, I’m hopeful the council will approve this as presented, because I think it’s a hugely important project for us.”


The council is required to take two votes on the lease issue. Supporting documents with the agenda items say hep energy is a company with extensive experience in developing solar energy projects and proposes to install and operate an approximate 20-megawatt, commercial-scale photovoltaic energy system on part of the city’s landfill and a 5-megawatt system on the former Runser property near Robert LaFleur Airport.

Empty dumpsters owned by Pine Tree Waste Company occupy space at the Waterville landfill in August 2017 off Webb Road in Waterville. The city earned rent revenue for storing the containers but is now planning to site a solar farm on the property. The City Council will take the first vote on approving leases with the developer for the city’s landfill and the former Runser property on Webb Road on Tuesday. File photo by Elise Klysa

In other matters Tuesday, the council will consider approving a $480,089 contract with Affinity LED Lighting of Dover, New Hampshire, to install new LED streetlights throughout the city. As part of the vote, $109,049 would also be approved to reimburse Central Maine Power Co. for the purchase of that company’s existing 1,492 street lights in the city. The project total would be $589,138.

Roy said that the projected payback for the project is 2.5 years.

“We have to pay CMP off for the lights that are there now and buy the news ones,” he said.

Roy said many towns and cities are switching to LED lights, as the savings are huge and the city would no longer have to rent lights. He said he thinks the city would borrow the funds for the project.

“This is pretty much a no-brainer — it really is,” he said. “This is a two-vote order, so this order provides authorization to borrow.”


The council also will consider taking final votes regarding a tax increment financing plan for 155 and 165 Main St. downtown, which are owned by the DePre family.

The Depres want to renovate the two downtown buildings to the tune of $10.5 million. The council last month voted to amend the existing downtown tax increment financing district to remove the buildings from the district and allow a new district to be developed for them, and another vote is needed.

Kennebec Realty Partners, owned by Thomas DePre Sr. and his sons, Thomas DePre Jr. and Justin DePre, hope to renovate 52,200 square feet on four levels of the two adjacent buildings. The building at 155 Main St. has two stories; the building at 165 Main St. has three stories. Plans call for an 11,000-square-foot craft brewery and 5,200 square feet of function space in the basement, plus a bowling alley, restaurant and brew pub. The DePres hope to develop 155 Main St. into office space on the second floor, as well as market-rate apartments on the second and third floors of the building at 165 Main St. A new roof and windows, as well as an elevator, are planned.

The council also will consider taking a final vote to approve allowing a $48,250 preliminary engineering plan to be done for the second phase of renovations to the Alfond Municipal Pool on North Street. Councilors voted April 16 to take a first vote to authorize Roy to sign a contract with Weston and Sampson for the engineering work.

In 2016, the city hired the company to provide a full assessment of the pool facility because it was deteriorating. The first phase involved rebuilding the slide structure that was 20 years old. Money for the replacement came from a $570,000 grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation and funds from the city pool reserve account. Engineering for the second phase will cover the main pool, wading pools, spray pad, filter building and bath house. The city hopes to start repair work in the fall of next year and anticipates having information available soon to apply for a grant for that project.

The council also will consider creating a committee to study the city’s property maintenance ordinance and return to the council with recommendations for changes and improvements. The city’s ordinance was adopted in 2007 and has not been reviewed comprehensively since then. Also Tuesday, councilors will consider adopting a food sovereignty ordinance. The ordinance would help ensure that residents have unimpeded access to local food or food products and that government regulation of direct producer-to-consumer goods is reduced, according to the proposal.

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