Residents worry about tree clearing for solar array

DEERFIELD – Some residents have voiced concern over changes in landscape that seem to accompany plans for a ground-mounted solar project slated for a 20-acre site at 100 Railroad Yard Road on property owned by Pan Am Southern.

John Drobinski and Kyle Purdy of Boston-based Environmental Resources Management, the consulting service applying for a special permit on behalf of Mass RE: 12 LLC, appeared before the Deerfield Planning Board this week at a public hearing to address questions from townspeople.

Purdy explained the solar project would produce 2.7 megawatts of direct-current electricity. Drobinski told The Recorder direct current, the opposite of alternating current, is electricity that goes in one direction only. He said direct current is converted into alternating current, which is used in homes and buildings. Drobinski is a geologist and Purdy is a wetlands specialist.

Resident M.A. Swedlund of River Road said the trees cleared on the Pan Am Southern property served as a noise buffer between residences and the railroad. She said many people know she is “fanatically in favor of solar,” but is worried about the trees being cleared. Drobinski assured her the entire parcel will not be cleared and ERM can explore the possibility of adding vegetation.

Drobinski said the solar project will actually consist of two arrays separated by private land.

Bruce Blanchard, also of River Road, asked if trees would be cut down up to this property and if the solar array would be fenced off. Drobinski answered affirmatively to both questions. Blanchard said he enjoys looking out his bedroom window and seeing wildlife, and he dreads having those animals replaced by “10,000 solar panels.”

Blanchard also asked if the solar panels would be installed via pile driving and Drobinski and Purdy said they would not.

A continuance of the public hearing was slated for Nov. 12 until a woman in the audience stood up to inform Chairman John Waite and the rest of the Planning Board that that will be the day Massachusetts recognizes Veterans Day, which falls on a Sunday this year. Board members then selected Nov. 8 for the continuance. Waite told The Recorder the hearing is being continued so the town can hire technical and compliance peer reviewers to look into issues including wetlands, storm water, setbacks, the size of the project and amount and location of tree clearing planned.

Drobinski said the Planning Board has been very cordial during this process.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

Author: Going Green

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