FARMINGTON — Monday night, Nov. 8, the Planning Board unanimously approved an amended solar project application submitted by Allen Tate of Clearwater Solar Partners LLC but denied changes requested by Farmington Solar.

Selectmen had been considering seeking a moratorium on solar projects because of concerns abutters brought to them regarding the latest solar proposal. They voted not to do so after learning addendums to the project would be submitted to address those concerns.

The proposed location is the former Nusman farm on Routes 2 and 27, the Farmington Falls Road, near the intersection with Davis Road. About 33 of the 240 acres owned by Bill Stasiowski and Anne Myers of West Newbury, Massachusetts, would be used.

Clearwater Solar Partners LLC is working with EDF Renewables and Stantec Consulting Services Inc. on the project.

EDF Renewables is a turnkey developer involved with solar, wind, storage and onsite services such as electrical charging stations, company representative Yannick Tamm said. It has 30 years experience, focusing on projects throughout the country of 2-30 megawatts in size, he noted.

This is an approximately 5-megawatt alternating-current project with about 23 acres inside an 8-foot fence, Tamm said. He indicated an agricultural-style fence is proposed that is less industrial looking than a chain link fence and will have six inch gaps in the mesh wiring to allow passage of smaller animals. There will be about 6.5 acres of tree clearing and the rest will be in open fields, he noted.

“Compared to the large project down the road (Farmington Solar), this one is 15 times smaller than that and 21 times smaller inside the fence line,” he added.

Farmington Solar is leasing about 500 acres, some 350 acres of which are on land owned by Sandy River Farms.

“The actual electrons being generated will be consumed by local homes around Farmington,” Tamm said.

Who will buy the power hasn’t been contracted yet but feeding it to CMP customers is a requirement, Tate said.

Project changes include increasing the setback from the Adrian Harris residence to 520 feet and from Rob Martin’s to 1,338 feet; the existed wooded buffer will be maintained; the access road has been straightened out and widened from 16 to 20 feet; wetlands will not be impacted and bridges will be used over stream crossings.

There is ample space between the fence line and the western property line to allow for snowmobile access, Tamm said. He noted Martin had raised that concern and was okay with that.

This project will offset more than 6,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year, Tamm said. Annually that would be enough to provide electricity for 1,200 homes, take 1,437 internal combustion cars off the road, or yield the carbon sequestration of more than 8,000 acres of forest land, he added.

There’s a nice view out my back window, Junior Turner noted. What will be seen when this is done, he asked.

That space will be left, the owner plans to continue pasturing cows there for now but may eventually create a draft horse sanctuary there, Tate said.

The project will be decommissioned back to its previous use once the operation ceases, with all costs coming from the project, Tamm noted.

“It’s a good use for the land,” Planning Board member Michael Otley said.

“I applaud you for working with the neighbors,” member Judith Martin said. “I like the idea of the environmental benefits for the community.”

Planning Board member Gloria McGraw asked if local workers would be employed and was told typically local contractors are hired during the construction process.

“I was having a fit over the other big (solar) system for a lot of reasons,” she said. “It wasn’t going to give us any power, I didn’t fell like they responded well about local labor. I wish you had been at the meetings back then because I was being obnoxious all by myself and I wish I had had some support.

“I wish we had this project first,” McGraw noted. “It feels better.”

The board also unanimously denied requested changes to the Farmington Solar project. The application originally asked for the addition of three 20 by eight foot Conex containers and two 20 by 20 foot carports. They would be used to store equipment for maintenance and snow removal.

NextEra changed the request to three 40 by eight foot Conex and one 20 by 30 foot carport. It also asked to move the fence near the Hovey Road 10 feet west to provide more turnaround space.

“How long have you known you were going to change this stuff around before you brought it to the board,” Planning Board member Craig Jordan asked.

“I found out this morning,” Randi Jackson, representing TRC, said.

Jackson was filling in because the people who usually represent the company were unavailable, Code Assistant Kate Foster said afterwards.

“Every meeting you have asked for something more,” Planning Board member Gloria McGraw said. “I’m not happy with what you have done so far without adding more. I’m very concerned about it.”

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