Member Ken Gagnon also asked to visit Harvey's proposed site, at 7 Maple Ave.
The board Monday night opened and continued to Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. its public hearing on Harvey's Farm LLC's variance request for a ground-mounted photovoltaic farm. The session was held in the Forbes Municipal Building.
The photovoltaic farm's nature as it relates to farming and to Westborough's zoning was at the core of Monday night's discussion.
"Somehow, I find solar panels not to be an agricultural use," which is allowed everywhere in town, Chairman Jim Johnson said.
Johnson asked if Harvey had applied to remove the proposed solar farm site from Chapter 61A. Land designated under 61A is deemed farm property and assessed at a lower tax rate than residential land, Johnson explained.
Attorney Adam Braillard said Harvey would apply for 61A removal if necessary.
Johnson said the board granted Harvey a variance not long ago for that same land, to "allow him to keep it as open space" and farm land.
Harvey said he could pay the debt from his farm improvements over the photovoltaic farm's 20-year lifespan.
The photovoltaic farm would occupy a site that's "probably the least productive of my land," he said.
Solar panels are part of farming's evolution, "just as the tractor took over from the horse," he said.
"We still want to farm the land," Harvey said.
"I don't want to change the zoning. I want it to remain a farm, with solar panels."
However, Gagnon called the site "not zoned for this."
The roughly three megawatt -- about 12,000 to 13,000 solar panels -- project would occupt about 15 acres of Harvey's Farm's estimated 42.5-acres, Braillard said.
The panels would "totally be movable," said Project Manager Charles Jenkins, who showed the board a photograph of one example.
"This type of racking minimizes the disturbance to the ground," said engineer Steve Poole.
Johnson expressed concern about another solar farm in Westborough, on Fisher Street.
"It's an eyesore, in my opinion," he said.
Jenkins said the project at Harvey's Farm has been "thoughtfully planned," and could be "a shining example of what could be."
Jenkins said such a solar farm "stays green almost year-round, and has very limited maintenance requirements."
Harvey said a state pilot program is looking at growing crops under solar panels. He is looking at growing ornamentals and other plants that way if the solar farm is built.
Braillard said any electricity generated beyond the farm's needs would return to the grid, where National Grid is required to accept it. The utility then asks the owner where it wants these energy credits allocated.
"Municipalities have been able to take advantage of those credits" to receive "electricity at a significantly reduced rate," Braillard said.
Harvey's Farm could have credits allocated to anywhere from "the 495 beltway west, as long as it's National Grid territory," he said.
Braillard said he has spoken with Town Manager Jim Malloy about this project, but has not negotiated a price.
"But we're interested in having that conversation," Jenkins said.
"However, there are other towns that would be interested if Westborough determines it is something it would not like to do," he said.