PITTSFIELD — The Town Council rejected the idea this week of a temporary ban on commercial solar farms, even as other communities in central Maine have approved moratoriums.

At a council meeting Tuesday, members voted 5-1 to reject a resolution authorizing the town attorney to draft a moratorium.

Drafting such a measure would have then given the Planning Board and ordinance committee time to develop regulations for commercial solar projects.

Deputy Mayor Peter Logiodice cast the one vote in favor of the resolution. Councilor Eric Saucier was absent from the meeting.

The resolution’s rejection came as many communities in the region have approved moratoriums on large-scale commercial solar projects, including Albion, Augusta, Belgrade, Clinton, Rome and others.

In some of those communities, officials and residents have said local comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances did not specifically address commercial projects.


The topic came up at the Town Council’s last meeting, as residents raised concerns and a councilor asked a resolution be included in Tuesday’s agenda, according to Town Manager Kathryn Ruth.

In discussing the resolution, Mayor Michael Cianchette said there are state and other regulations in place for solar projects. Councilors also said they did not want to tell landowners what to do with their property.

“Somebody owns the land, I feel they should have the option and right to do whatever they want with it,” Councilor Brent Frost said.

Peter Vigue, Cianbro chairman and former CEO, said he was against the resolution and did not understand why Pittsfield would spend money on its lawyer for this. Vigue said Cianbro has a solar farm in town and a second one in the works.

“I think it’s inappropriate and it’s wrong,” Vigue said of the resolution.

Resident Heather Donahue, who served previously on the Town Council, spoke in support of the measure, saying it would give the Planning Board time to consider the vision for the future of the town and how solar farms fit into that vision.


Donahue also pointed out that many of these projects are run by out-of-state companies that might not fully consider the impact on communities.

“Part of the conversation needs to be not just past development that’s happened,” Donahue said, “but development that’s going forward, and the effects that that can have.”

Kate Dufour, director of advocacy and communication for the Maine Municipal Association, said Wednesday many of the concerns about commercial solar projects have to do with the eventual decommissioning of the projects and removal of large solar panels and other equipment.

She also said consideration of such a project in a town often comes down to balancing a community’s needs. For example, does a town want to prioritize maintaining farmland or does it want to incentivize green energy?

The council also held a public hearing Tuesday on a $2.4 million loan for sewer work in town, which was then unanimously approved.

The money, to be borrowed from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, is to pay for work on Birchwood Terrace and Hunnewell Avenue.

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