Planners tackle solar, hotel proposals at Feb. 4 hearings


Tempers flared over a proposed solar overlay district and one member waxed philosophic on the current state of zoning as the Canton Planning Board commenced public hearings last week on the 12 proposed zoning changes for 2015.

Approximately two dozen citizens turned out for the February 4 meeting, which lasted more than three hours and featured discussion on all 12 of the proposed articles, ranging from minor language tweaks to large-scale revisions of the town’s zoning map.

Falling into the latter category were two separate hotel overlays, both of which would be located on Royall Street (off Route 138), as well as the latest attempt to rezone the Plymouth Rubber property that would allow for a mix of residential and commercial uses at the former factory site.

Yet it was a two-megawatt solar farm proposal that ultimately sparked the longest and fiercest debate of the evening, with neighbors and board members questioning both the need and the practicality of the idea.

The amendment, brought forth by the owners of Knollwood Memorial Park, seeks to apply the recently created Large Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation Overlay District (SPOD) to two parcels of unused cemetery property between Walpole and High streets.

Quincy Vale, an attorney for MassAmerican Energy LLC, the solar developer contracted by the cemetery company, said the installation would encompass roughly six acres, be installed low to the ground, and have little to no impact on the abutting properties. He added that the land would eventually be used for burial plots and that the solar farm was a way for the company to generate revenue “while it’s being warehoused for future use as a cemetery.”

But the neighbors who turned out Wednesday night spoke in unanimous opposition to the project, citing concerns over property values, drainage, and what one resident characterized in a letter to the board as an “unnecessary and unjustifiable reduction in open space.”

Longtime resident Ed Lukaszewicz was even more blunt in his assessment of the proposal, stating, “This is a farce. We don’t need anything like that up there … It’s just ridiculous.”

Planning Board Chairman Jeremy Comeau, who grew up in that area of town, also expressed reservations about the proposal, including the fact that they would be clear-cutting trees “in the guise of using renewable energy.”

“It’s like having windmills down on [Cape Cod] and you’re also disturbing the wildlife and ecosystem under the water,” he said.

Fellow board member George Jenkins also criticized the proposal, referencing a bucolic village in Vermont that he said was “decimated by this foolishness.”

“It’s one thing to be in favor of renewable energy, but at what cost?” said Jenkins. “Not monetary cost — what about cost to the people?”

While the board eventually decided to continue the hearing on the matter until February 18, it was clear from their remarks that all three members in attendance — including Michael Mitcheroney — were opposed to an overlay in that location, prompting one of the representatives from the solar developer to storm out of the room as the discussion was wrapping up …

See this week’s Canton Citizen for more highlights from the February 4 zoning hearings, including details on the 2 hotel proposals on Royall Street. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today.

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avatar Posted by on Feb 12 2015. Filed under News, Town Government. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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