Neighbors of proposed solar farm seek smaller fence

By Cynthia Prairie

Good fences may make good neighbors, but aesthetically pleasing fences could go a long way to making happy neighbors. That was the opinion of several Chester residents whose properties border a planned solar farm near Trebo Road. They were attending a preliminary hearing for the Public Service Board Monday night at Chester-Andover Elementary School. Solar Renewable Logo

The 2.0 megawatt facility, proposed by Solar Renewable Energy LLC of Pennsylvania and property owner William Perfetto, would consist of 8,000 to 9,000 solar modules of about 295 watts each. The property would be surrounded by a 7-foot tall chainlink fence. It was the proposed fence that concerned Sam and Laurie Comstock, whose farm abuts the property to the south, Kirk Kehoe, whose property is just north, Sam Copping, who lives west of the project, and Jason Rasmussen of the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission.

“In general,” Rasmussen said, the commission “is supportive of renewable energy.” But, he added, the commission is concerned about the appearance, he said, referring to the fence height. He asked if planting could be placed to soften the fence.

Kehoe said his family will be “looking at this for the next 25 years. Could the area be surrounded by a farm style fence?”  Following the hearing he said, “The industrial look of the fence is what I object to.”

Sam Comstock said he’s “supportive of a smaller fence, a shorter fence and some screening,” and Copping agreed. Comstock added that he also is concerned about vegetation control.

Following the meeting, Richard Mazza of Solar Renewable, said he has been working closely with all the abutters, and has indeed proposed a cattle fence – cedar posts with wire. As for vegetation, he said his company would mow as needed.

While the PSB itself wasn’t there, PSB staff attorney Jake Marren led the meeting with PSB utilities engineer David Watts by his side. A transcript of the hearing and information from Marren and Watts will help inform the board of any issues it should look at before the technical hearings begin, probably at the end of April.

The PSB then will decide whether the solar farm project receives a Certificate of Public Good, which the project needs to begin construction.

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Filed Under: Business & Personal Finance

About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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