Wareham Zoning Board wants to see screening measures for massive solar project

By Matthew Bernat | Nov 08, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Richard Riccio, a project manger for Field Engineering, reviews a solar array proposed for land near the intersection of Route 25 and Charge Pond Road on Wednesday.

The Zoning Board of Appeals heard concerns from officials and residents on Wednesday regarding a massive solar project, including the need to properly screen it from view.

Representatives from Bluewave Capital, a Boston-based solar developer, met with the board seeking permission to build a facility capable of generating 12 megawatts of electricity.

Plans call for installing 32,724 solar panels in four different arrays on land near the intersection of Route 25 and Charge Pond Road. The area is home to a mix of cranberry bogs and forest.

Charles Rowley, the town’s engineer, said he wanted developers to ensure the project isn’t visible from Route 25. In particular, he said clearing trees along a 900-foot stretch of highway was concerning.

“Once you start clearing trees that are dense, vegetative growth you see things you never saw before,” said Rowley. “The more we can keep that dense growth without impacting substantially the number of panels they’ve got there is worth taking a look at.”

Jonathan Mancini, Bluewave’s senior director of project development, said the company had installed landscape buffers at its projects throughout the state.

Rowley said he preferred using existing trees because a buffer requires maintenance.

Bluewave officials agreed to return with more details on the project, which is currently moving through the approval process with several other town boards. A preliminary hearing with the Planning Board has already occurred and the Conservation Commission is reviewing if the project will impact nearby wetlands.

On Wednesday, Richard Riccio, a project manger for Field Engineering, Bluewave’s design firm, reviewed the solar proposal with the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Riccio said the arrays will not be within 500 feet of a home or generate substantial noise or traffic. He noted that a 7-foot high chainlink fence will be built around all four sets of arrays for security.

During the public comment portion of the hearing, Wareham Department of Natural Resources Director Garry Buckminister asked if the substantial loss of wildlife habitat due to clear cutting will be addressed.

He said losing the habitat, which abuts the 597-acre Maple Springs Wildlife Management Area, will impact many species.

“You’re pushing green energy, but you’re eliminating habitat,” said Buckminster. “No one mentioned mitigation for the amount of [habitat] that’s going to be taken down.”

Rowley agreed on a personal level, but noted the town has few avenues for denying solar projects.

Selectman Alan Slavin, who was also at the meeting, said the state is committed to promoting renewable energy through subsidies and laws favoring developers.

“There’s a lot of incentives for companies to do this,” said Slavin. “The bottom line is, you’re very constricted in what you can do.”

Bluewave Capital officials are scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals again on Dec. 13. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Service Center.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Nazih Elkallassi, left, and member Karl Baptiste, listen during the solar project's presentation. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Comments (5)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Nov 09, 2017 07:29

Solar sucks, its all about shysters sponging off the tax and ratepayer.

Posted by: desertsky | Nov 09, 2017 07:42

the only people benefiting from these solar farms are the developer. I don't know one TAXPAYER that has seen a benefit on their electric bill thanks to the giant solar farms. Great source of renewable energy...for Eversource or whoever. Doesn't do me a damn bit of good.

Posted by: Uptohere | Nov 09, 2017 10:45

I could be wrong but I believe I saw a list of 12 solar farms set for Wareham.  If correct, we are going from 1 nasty surprise on Toby to being over run by this $&/#  and we are stuck because of the asswipes in charge of our state.  And we will just have to deal with it as best we can?  Do the surrounding towns get $@/# over as much as we are?

Posted by: noseyrich | Nov 10, 2017 11:57

12 more fugly farms???? Wake up selectmen! We the People do not want these ugly, perpetual developments UNLESS they are not "In our face" !

Approve all you want, but insist that they be shielded from the public.

AND... Please insist that the FUGLY FARM on Toby Rd. be shielded as well. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE,!! Who ever approved that development was/is totally deaf and blind to the wishes of the residents of this town, please ensure that it is shielded, if it is not already mandated that it be.

Posted by: Phredzzz | Nov 10, 2017 13:55

They are all Rushing like crazy to Jam these projects in wherever they can get away with it! Wareham has been labeled as a Pushover Community where there is almost zero restraints on this kind of Crap. Main reason they are now rushing to get them all done is; they are in FEAR of President Trumps attempt to eliminate the Taxpayer Subsidies. Those Federal Subsidies will soon go away if Tax reform passes through Congress. We are ALL paying for this at the Fed level with those subsidies, and also at the State level with State subsidies, and even when you pay your Electrical Bill there is a Fee attached for so-called Clean energy efforts. Can you Say Political Con-Job !!!!

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