Westborough Won't Pursue Solar Farm Land
Selectmen declined the town's right of first refusal.
Westborough won’t pursue buying about eight acres that Harvey’s Farm plans for a solar farm.
Selectmen voted Tuesday night not to exercise Westborough’s right of first refusal under state law to buy the Maple Avenue land, which owner Jim Harvey seeks to remove from state Chapter 61A agricultural status.
Harvey plans a ground mounted solar facility of about 2.4 megawatts, on about eight acres of his farm, attorney Adam Braillard noted. Selectmen recently voted to authorize Malloy to sign a 20-year contract with Sun Ray Power LLC to buy the net metering credits generated by the project at 7 Maple Ave.
Tuesday night, Harvey said the Westborough Open Space Preservation Committee gave him “one day’s notice” of its scheduled meeting on the Chapter 61A topic. However, the meeting was postponed for a week for lack of a quorum, Harvey said. Harvey said committee Chairman Mark Silverberg said he would call if that date changed, but ““I’ve never heard from him.”
Harvey’s comments did not sit well with some selectmen.
“It’s not fair to penalize this issue because of a municipal runaround,” Selectman George Barrette said.
“You folks are trying to do your work. It stinks, and we need to change that.”
Earlier in the discussion, Barrette said he wanted the land appraised, as provided for under the state law.
Barrette also raised questions about whether Harvey’s notice to the town included sufficient detail.
“It’s not about the solar array. It’s about the taking it in and out of Chapter 61A,” he said.
“Obviously, I’m excited about the solar power. I’m excited about the savings that the town would get. But, I don’t think taking it a little bit slower and knowing what the heck is going on is a bad thing.”
Silverberg said that on Harvey’s notice, “the plot has no dimensions.”
“The way the notice is filed, it effectively precludes the town getting an appraisal,” Silverberg said.
“To me, I don’t think that 30 days (to get an appraisal) has started. I’m a proponent of solar energy. And I would like to see this project move forward. But I would like to see a mechanism in place where the town and Mr. Harvey agree to continue that right of first refusal on a voluntary basis so that we can keep our rights intact.”
Braillard said “we think we filed accurately.”
Meanwhile, selectmen have continued the site plan review public hearing on the project until 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12.
The site plan review is required under the use variance from the zoning board of appeals, Braillard said.
The project proponents and town departments are exchanging information on various issues.
“I don’t see two weeks (as) unreasonable to get all of this resolved,” Building Commissioner Tin Htway said.