Derry DRB OKs solar project off Route 100

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Development Review Board last Monday, April 30, approved a 500-kilowatt AC solar project, with conditions, proposed by Peter Norris of Norris Brothers’ Solar Development of Pittsford for a 3-acre plot on Route 100. Construction will begin in the fall at the earliest.

Peter Norris shows Esther Fishman a detail on his solar plans. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

Only four members of the public attended the hearing, and two of those were Select Board members and one sits on the Planning Commission.

Norris told the DRB that site of the proposed solar farm is a former gravel pit on a little less than 3 acres that sits just south of the Transfer Station on Route 100. The property is owned by Jeff and Lisa Yrsha and will be leased from them for 25 years. The farm is expected to produce a maximum of 500 kW AC.

According to the proposed site map, there will be 21 rows with two to eight arrays in each row.

DRB co-chair Esther Fishman said she had received an email from a resident asking if the solar site could be seen from the West River. Norris said he too had emailed with that resident and believes the resident is satisfied that the site would not be visible from the river. Norris added that no trees would be cut.

Norris told Fishman that flaggers would be available to direct traffic when the four or five larger trucks arrive to deliver the solar panels and materials. He added that there is room on the site for five or so cars used by those installing the solar arrays, and that there would be two or three trips a year to the site for maintenance of the panels and equipment, and the site would be mowed probably once a year.

Layout for proposed solar farm off Route 100 in Londonderry.

Norris said it was typical that 13-foot long metal posts be pounded up to 8 feet in the ground to support the racks that hold the solar panels, as well as support snow. He also said the salvage value of the metal should pay for the cost of dismantling the system when that time comes.

To get the necessary bank loan, Norris Brothers will still need to find “off takers” to purchase the power produced by the panels. Norris said it could be just one organization that can use all the power produced or up to 100 homeowners.  Planning Commission chair Sharon Crossman suggested possible off takers might be Flood Brook School, the Weston Country Store and Magic Mountain. Norris said it is common for solar arrays of this size be used by one or two large electricity users such as a dairy farm.

At this point, Norris said he needs the DRB approval of the permit as well a letter from the Select Board and the Planning Commission naming the site as a preferred site based on new rules from the Public Utility Commission.

Norris told Fishman that the soonest construction could start is this fall.

The Londonderry DRB discusses the solar farm proposal.

The DRB met in closed session after the public hearing to deliberate on the proposal and set conditions.

Zoning Administrator Robert Nied told The Telegraph that the DRB imposed the following conditions the project:

  1. The developer will deploy certified flaggers during entry and exit of large trucks delivering equipment to the site.
  2. No trees will be cut in the river corridor.
  3. The gate to the facility will be locked when unattended.
  4. The height of the solar arrays will not exceed 11 feet.
  5. The developer will remove all equipment from the site when and if, it is decommissioned.
  6. The developer will provide 12 months advance notice to the Select Board if the site is to be decommissioned.
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