Hadley planners postpone vote on Eversource solar array

HADLEY — The Planning Board again postponed a vote on an Eversource Energy solar array Tuesday after it became clear there was no supermajority to approve the permitting needed.

At issue is whether the project — at the intersection of Moody Bridge Road and South Maple Street — is adequately screened from view.

The company has gone back and forth with the Planning Board for months over concerns the array could obscure views of the Mount Holyoke Range and decrease property values.

At the meeting, John Earle, who lives nearby at a higher elevation, said Eversource satisfied his concerns after it agreed to plant trees on his land, blocking the view.

The company has also increased tree screening around its project. Still, board members John Mieczkowski Sr. and Michael Sarsynski both said they would vote against the proposal.

Eversource needs four members on the five-member board to sign on.

Mieczkowski said he would “absolutely” vote for the project if Eversource increased screening to surround the whole solar array.

Assuming the remaining three board members voted for it, Mieczkowski’s support would give Eversource the votes needed — despite Sarsynski, who said in February: “This is 2017’s version of Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Take Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot.’”

Amy Voisine-Shea, an environmental specialist for Eversource, said after the meeting the company is still in talks with the Kestrel Land Trust about giving up the array on the sensitive land in exchange for another location in Sunderland.

Eversource will come back to the board with revisions on June 20.

The Eversource project would be the eighth completed or in-the-works solar array in Hadley, said Town Assessor Daniel Zdonek.

At its May 16 meeting, the Planning Board approved two other solar arrays to be built behind Hampshire Mall by Nexamp Inc.

In May, voters approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the company and town, in which the town would collect a little under $40,000 per year in taxes, Zdonek said.

The previous farmland generated a couple of hundred dollars per year in property taxes, Zdonek said.

Tap room

The Planning Board voted unanimously to issue a permit for a liquor establishment to Joseph Eckerle, of Joseph Roberts Enterprise LLC.

Eckerle wants to open a 2,400-square-foot tap room at the Mill Valley Commons, a shopping center at the intersection of Route 9 and Mill Valley Road.

Eckerle said he plans to feature local brewers and wineries.

Still, Kathy Salvatore, 61, of 4 Mill Valley Road, worried about increased traffic and noise because of the tap room.

Her concerns were not enough to stall the permit process. Eckerle still must receive a liquor license from the Select Board, which meets Wednesday, and did not have an estimated opening date.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.

Author: Going Green

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