A tractor-trailer travels northbound on Interstate 95, near Arbor Technologies at 99 Webb Road in Waterville. A strip of land at 99 Webb Road has been rezoned to allow for construction of a 725-kilowatt solar farm. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The City Council took a final vote Tuesday night to rezone part of 99 Webb Road in Waterville to allow for construction of a solar farm.

Property owner Leo St. Peter must still bring a plan for the solar farm to the Planning Board for approval after Novel Energy applies to Central Maine Power Co. for permission to hook into three-phase power at the south end of Airport Road.

If CMP grants conditional approval, St. Peter would ask the City Council for an easement across city property to allow Novel Energy to build an access road and install utility poles between the proposed solar farm and Airport Road.

The council approved the rezoning in a 7-0 vote after Councilor Ken Gagnon, D-Ward 5, said he visited the Webb Road property earlier Tuesday and thought what St. Peter wants to do seems reasonable.

Gagnon said he spoke with people who live on Webb Road and said they have problems with other solar farms, especially one at the city’s airport.

“We’re going to have to take a hard look at it,” Gagnon said, “because it doesn’t seem like it was done well.”


Gagnon said people on Webb Road said they did not want him to vote to approve rezoning for the 99 Webb Road solar farm proposal because there are enough solar farms in the neighborhood. Gagnon said he then spoke with them further about the proposal, and they were OK with it.

City Manager Bryan Kaenrath said the city is aware of the issues with the solar farm at Robert LaFleur Airport. The issues, he said, include replanting and drainage issues, and the city is working to correct them. Gagnon said he would be glad to be part of meetings held to discuss the matter.

The City Council took a first vote April 3 to rezone part of 99 Webb Road from general industrial to solar farm district to allow St. Peter to develop the solar farm. The Planning Board voted 6-0 on March 26 to recommend the council rezone the property.

St. Peter owns Arbor Technologies LLC and about 27 acres at the site. The narrow strip he wants to rezone is north of a CMP transmission easement across his land. St. Peter and Scott Tempel of Novel Energy Solutions LLC told the Planning Board on April 3 the array would be a 725-kilowatt solar garden hooked into a grid, and serve as a subscription base for local people looking to decrease their energy costs.

Before the Planning Board vote March 26, board member April Chiriboga said the site appears to be within the habitat of the upland sandpiper, an endangered, threatened and special concern species. If significant wildlife or endangered species are found on the property, the proposal could be disqualified, she said.

Tempel, a permit specialist for Novel Energy, said a thorough assessment of wildlife, wetlands and vernal pools will be done, as required by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

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