| Joanne Cole, NGX |
At their January 22 meeting, the Land Management Planning Committee wrapped up months of work on a proposed solar energy system ordinance. Next stop: a joint meeting with the Select Board, Planning Board, and LMPC this month to discuss the draft. From there, the ordinance is likely to go to public hearing in March and on to voters at town meeting in May.
LMPC member Jean Libby underscored the urgency of getting solar project regulations in place soon. “Everybody’s out to either lease their land or buy the land to do this,” Libby said, “It’s like the Gold Rush. We’re sitting here with this land everybody wants to use.”
Among final revisions by LMPC and town planner Scott Hastings were provisions giving the Planning Board discretion to require a visual impact study if the size, location, or other characteristics of a solar project warrant. Arrays proposed for publicly accessible scenic areas, for example, could prompt such a request from the Planning Board. Owners and developers would be expected to have a qualified professional perform the study, Hastings said.
With the solar ordinance behind them, the committee settled on two issues to take up next: the town’s sign ordinance and subdivision fire protection. Hastings recommended considering the town sign ordinance because it likely conflicts with recent court rulings regarding permissible and impermissible restrictions on free speech. Committee members asked whether the town can still regulate size of signs, setbacks, and the duration of display for ‘temporary’ signs. Hastings will take a comprehensive look and report back.
As to fire protection for proposed subdivisions, current requirements may be discouraging developers from pursuing subdivision projects in town. The cost of installing a cistern, for example, can be prohibitive for smaller developers, Jean Libby said. LMPC agreed to consider the topic and will invite Fire and Rescue Chief Toby Martin to share his perspective at an upcoming meeting.
Video of the January 22 LMPC meeting can be viewed here. The draft solar energy system ordinance can be obtained by contacting town planner Scott Hastings at email@example.com or 207-926-4126 x4. Additional information about LMPC and its work can be accessed here on the town website.