Showing posts with label solar power. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solar power. Show all posts

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Let There Be (lots of) Light

The solar array will take up about 8 acres of the 20 acre site
West Bay Road & Eric Carle Museum will be screened by dogwoods that can grow up to 12'

The Amherst Planning Board voted unanimously last night (6-0 with 3 absent) to approve a Site Plan Review for Hampshire College to construct a 2.55 megawatt solar array in a former 20 acre farm field off West Bay Road near Atkins Market, Eric Carle Museum and Applewood Retirement Community.

Since the Building Commissioner had ruled this energy operation was an accessory use to an education institute, the Dover Amendment would trump local rejection of the project.

But the Planning Board seemed impressed enough with the presentation so they probably would have endorsed it heartily anyway.

Nearby Orchard Valley resident John Boothroyd spoke loudly against the project questioning if solar really was carbon neutral and lamenting the loss of farmland and trees.  He also worried about glare endangering drivers along West Bay Road.

Developer Mickey Marcus assured the Board solar was more environmentally friendly with carbon savings (estimated at 2,000 tons annually) and that it's a myth solar panels cause glare saying, "They are designed to absorb sunlight."

This Amherst solar project combined with one in Hadley will provide the campus with 100% of its energy needs.  Construction is expected to take 3 to 4 months and will be completed by the fall semester.

And for the first time in its history Hampshire College will pay the town a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes over the solar project ($21,000 plus 2.5% annually for 20 years).  Although the house/barn at 1095 to the east of the project is slated for demolition.

 Farmhouse and barn east of solar project will be demolished soon

Hampshire  College bought the Ives Farm where the solar project will be located including the old farmhouse and barn over 20 years ago with the provision -- called a "life estate" -- Mr. and Mrs. Ives could live their until their deaths.  Both have now passed away.

Last year Hampshire College paid $6,377 in property taxes for the 1095 West Street property, but that  will go down substantially after the demolition (perhaps to zero).

Last year Amherst College paid us $130,000 in PILOT for the vital services of Amherst Fire Department, while UMass paid around $450,000 (for ambulance service).  Hampshire College paid nothing.

 Hadley solar array

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hampshire College Bright Idea

Land located north side West Bay Road between Eric Carle Museum and Rt 116

Last night Amherst Town Meeting gave interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek the authority to engage in discussions with potential owners of large solar arrays for a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes.

Interestingly enough that authority covers not just the deal on the town owned landfills but also extends to private landowners like Amherst and Hampshire Colleges, both in the top three for land ownership in town.

After a year of planning, Hampshire College is poised to start construction on a 2.5 megawatt array on the old Ives property off West Bay Road, directly opposite Atkins Country Market, who also installed a solar array three years ago to satisfy their energy needs.

The deal on the table with Hampshire College would generate $560,000 over the life of the 20 year project, or $28,000 per year.

Currently Hampshire College pays the town nothing for AFD services while Amherst College pays us $130,000 and UMass/Amherst about $455,000.

Vince O'Connor, in one of his more lucid moments, asked from the floor of Town Meeting if the authority of the Town Manager would extend to UMass/Amherst our #2 property owner in town.

 Solar array will save UMass $40,000 per year

And he pointed out the new 300 kilowatt solar canopy over the parking lot at the Robsham Visitor's Center as an example.

Finance Director Sandy Pooler shrugged his shoulders saying, "It's complicated."

UMass recently stopped paying the town's local option hotel tax on the Campus Center Hotel and they are holding hostage the $200,000 collected and put in escrow trying to coerce the town into signing a three year overdue "Strategic Partnership Agreement."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

 Proposed layout for 3.7 megawatt array

 Newer 56 acre closed landfill is lined and currently home to transfer station

About 60 people showed up this evening for the town's "Community Information Session On Solar" and the vast majority of them were in favor of solar installations on the town's closed landfills -- more so on the newer of the two.

 Town Manager John Musante:  "Our efforts to be green continues"

About a half dozen Amherst Woods residents, however, voiced the usual complaints about ye old landfill: An environmental catastrophe would be brought on by building a solar array on the unlined landfill with a Walmart quality cap.

 Sun Edison has an impressive resume

The Town Manager can negotiate a deal with Sun Edison on the old landfill because Town Meeting granted him that authority back in 2011 even though that particular deal fell through due to NIMBY concerns.  He would need Town Meeting approval to negotiate over the new landfill which seemed to have pretty strong support.

Last year the town and schools spent $1.373 million in electricity costs and if the 3.7 megawatt deal goes through Amherst would get around $75,000 Payment In Lieu Of Taxes on the solar array plus savings on electricity of $130,000 per year or a total annual gain to taxpayers of $205,000.

Plus we would be walking the walk of a "green community."

Smaller layout for old 53 acre landfill (to keep NIMBYs happy) would generate anywhere from 1.7 to 3.3 megawatts
Old landfill has higher concentration of nearby (vociferous) neighbors

The 30%  Federal Tax Credits expire in December, 2016 so this project must have panels on the ground by then in order to work.  And the bureaucratic hurdles are many:  Select Board, Finance Committee and then Town Meeting approval.

 Sandy Pooler:  "The first thing we want to do is have another meeting"

A Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (that requires a unanimous vote of all three members) is also a major hurdle and possibly Conservation Commission approval, and of course a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection.

But mainly town officials need to win the hearts and minds of neighbors motivated by self interest, or a lawsuit will once again become the weapon of choice.

 Not overly large crowd in attendance but 90% were supportive

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Let The Sunshine, Let The Sunshine In

Newer 56 acre closed line-landfill Belchertown Road

Yes Amherst is having yet another public meeting on locating solar power within the confines of our 27.7 square miles of altered reality.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday night at the Amherst Regional Middle School auditorium, ironically enough the scene of a major defeat for NIMBY/BANANAs when Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly to support solar on ye old landfill.

Ye old closed 53 acre unlined-landfill also on Belchertown Road just across the street

As usual the NIMBY/BANANAs will probably be out in force with lots of ideas where not to locate a solar array (anywhere within their sight line or territory for walking the dog).

 Downtown has a tiny bit of solar

And considering their victory over the Town Manger on the old landfill proposed site -- after the town spent $60,000 creating a legal contract with a provider -- it's safe to assume residents anywhere near newly proposed sites will use the same obstructionist strategy.

 One woman lobby picketing Town Meeting 5/11/15

The newer closed landfill will not necessarily be immune from immediate neighbors:  Back in 2002 residents of Logtown Road successfully torpedoed the town's attempt to increase the height of the landfill by 10 feet to keep it open longer (and generate tons of revenue).

The Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the idea by a 2 (yes)-1 (no) vote.  The Special Permit required a unanimous vote.

Solar array among the fertile fields of Hadley just over the town line

Monday, June 15, 2015

Here Comes The Solar

Robsham Visitor's Center

Work has begun on the nifty new solar parking lot canopies -- the first of their kind in our area --at the Robsham Visitor's Center parking lot across the street from Haigis Mall in the heart of UMass campus.

The solar units will cover six rows of parking spaces, producing a total of .576 megawatts of electricity. In addition UMass will install three Level Two dual charging stations for electric vehicles to plug in.

The town of Amherst, as part of their "green initiative" is installing a charging station in the lower level of the garage for the town's electric vehicle and a duel system for the general public in the parking lot behind Town Hall.

The Town Manager is also going on a fishing expedition by preparing a broadly worded Request For Proposals for companies to use town property for solar installations. Of course if NIMBYs see ye old landfill mentioned they will be quick to pull the plug by threatening yet another lawsuit.

Anyone remember when going "green" simply meant nice plantings?

 Town Hall greenspace
Amherst Police station plantings

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Solar Sabotage?

Solar array on E. Hadley Road, Hadley (just over Amherst border)

Perhaps emboldened by their Amherst NIMBY counterparts who successfully torpedoed a 4-Megawatt solar project at the most perfection location on God's green earth -- an old landfill -- Shutesbury residents are now taking up pitchforks and torches over a proposed 6-Megawatt installation out in the middle of nowhere.

 30 acres out of a total of 830

While the 30 acres the array will require may sound like a lot, it is located on a 830 acre site known as the "Wheelock lot" owned by the state's largest private landowner W.D. Cowls Inc.  The property will be leased for 20 years by a big time Chicago firm, Lake Street Development Partners LLC. 

Since Shutesbury, like Amherst, is a "green community" the permitting of a commercial solar array shows the quaint hilltown can walk the walk rather than just lip-servicing sustainable energy.

In addition the economic benefits from a facility that requires no town services is alone more than enough reason to support the project.

The current offer on the table for Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) is $8,000 per megawatt or $48,000 total, which over the 20 year lease comes to pretty much $1 million dollars.

The entire parcel is currently in the forest conservation program (Ch 61) so total payments to the town in 2015 come to only $891.

The opposition seems to be led by Michael DeChiara which comes as no surprise.  He orchestrated the ill fated M.N. Spear Library expansion Override yes campaign that bitterly divided the town.  And lost. 

And Mr. DeChiara has spent the past three years as the Shutesbury representative to the 4-town Regional Agreement Working Group, which overwhelmingly voted to support the expansion of the current 7-12 Regional School District all the way down to Kindergarten & grades 1 thru 6.  DeChiara voted No. 

The obligatory new website dedicated to opposing the solar project Alliance for Appropriate Development, seems to be drawing plenty of time and attention from Mr. DeChiara:

 Click to enlarge/read
(UPDATE: Friday morning: Since this was first published the website removed the Recent site activity" button at the bottom of the page.  Hmm ...)

Which is fine I suppose.  After all Mr. DeChiara does live there.  But he's also a recently elected member of the Shutesbury Select Board, so you have to wonder when Conflict of Interest law applies.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

From Green To Glass

Amazing maze:  Allard Farm, Amherst/Hadley border 

If you loved the view off Mill Valley Road in the summertime, a sea of green corn soaking up the sun under a radiant blue sky, you will probably not be pleased with this latest development. Yes, unlike Amherst, when Hadley announces a solar farm deal, it actually happens.

Allard Farm, yesterday

Of course it doesn't hurt that the prime instigator is the Hampshire Council of Government, a vestige of years gone by where small towns became members to use the power of co-op buying for discounts.

But now those discounts are more easily available on the Internet, without the high membership fee to HCOG. 

So the HCOG has found a new service niche by morphing into a one stop discount energy provider.

This project by Nexamp will, on days when Mother Nature cooperates, generate 3 megawatts of energy.  The deal with Hadley (besides the private deal hatched with Allard Farms) will provide a discount coupon worth 21 cents on the dollar payment towards their current electricity consumption.

In addition to this Nexamp project, BlueWave Capital has three solar arrays on the drawing board in Hadley.  BlueWave you may remember is the company Amherst aligned with to construct a 4.75 megawatt facility on the old landfill off Belchertown Road, which would be the largest in the state.

That project came under heavy fire from nearby abutters, and has since gone dark.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let The Sun Shine!

 Amherst Old Belchertown Road:  Ye Old Landfill

I just love documents with the heading "Confidential:  Not a Public Document."   But yes, Amherst is the home of "Open Government To The Max" initiative, so they even release documents with such a secretive heading even before I get around to a public documents request.

About the only newsworthy thing in this litigation update (at the half-way point in the Fiscal Year) is entry # 3, the status of the lawsuit by ten NIMBYs opposing the solar array at the old landfill.  Looks like the lawsuit is deader than some of the things buried in the old landfill.

So let's hope construction of the solar array commences soon.  Too bad it cost Amherst taxpayers over $8,377 to clear this legal hurdle. 

Legal costs, however, have been fairly low this year -- as evidenced by this rather brief half-year update. The other PUBLIC document being discussed tonight at the Select Board meeting is the half-way point budget update.  Legal Services has only consumed $28,157 out of an annual budget of $110,000.

Although I'm now told that the actual amount as of today is $40, 536 ... still, pretty low at the almost half way point.  The law firm of Kopelman and Paige have a minimum retainer of $44,000 with the town, so it' s not like they are ever going to starve.

Attorney Joel Bard, the face of Kopelman and Paige, at a recent ZBA meeting

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NIMBY Knock Out?

 Ye Old Amherst (unlined) Landfill

Looks like the top two weapons in the NIMBY arsenal for disrupting the deal to bring a solar farm to ye old Amherst landfill may be scuttled by the Massachusetts state legislature.  The lawsuit citing an antiquated DEP deed restriction for keeping landfills free of any development except passive recreation could be swept aside by a new ordinance specifically freeing landfills from any such trivial outdated mandates.

And now the once all-powerful anti-development nuke known as Massachusetts Endangered Species Act may lose some of its Divine power to preserve, protect and coddle critters like the Grasshopper Sparrow who currently make their home on the grassy wide expanse covering the fermented, decayed garbage.

Apparently when it comes to renewable energy, our state legislators have seen the light.

At 4.75 mega watts, Amherst would be one of the state's largest

Monday, July 16, 2012

Solar Energy Deal Moves Forward

Old landfill on Belchertown Road

After more than a year since Town Meeting overwhelmingly gave him the authority to do so, Town Manager John Musante brought before the Select Board a 31 page draft of the "Solar Power Services Agreement" he negotiated for electric energy created at a solar farm situated on the old landfill.

The 25 year deal calls for Amherst to lock in electric rates at 6.75 cents per kilowatt hour from the energy produced at up to a 4.25 megawatt operation, with total savings estimated at between $1.8 million and $6.8 million over the life of the contract.  Original value estimates first floated over a year ago were as high as $1 million annually for thirty years in electricity savings and property taxes paid.

The state is proposing solar farms be exempt from paying local property taxes thus the $15 million operation that would have paid $300,000 annually to Amherst will, like some of our academic and cultural institutions, pay nothing.

Musante also disclosed that he was in negotiations with another provider of solar energy from a site located outside of Amherst (Easthampton?). This secondary source could reduce the need for such a large solar array footprint proposed for the old landfill, which could somewhat appease concerned neighbors.

Town Manager John Musante, Stephanie O'Keeffe Select Board Chair 

The Select Board did not take a formal vote on the agreement, but Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe told the town manager he had their "full support."

The Solar Farm still has a number of significant hurdles to clear before any energy starts to flow:  A lawsuit brought by immediate neighbors of the proposed solar farm is still active, the Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals must also support the project unanimously and the question of a "threatened species", the Grasshopper Sparrow, means a National Heritage Species permit must be secured.

But tonight's presentation certainly demonstrated there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Amherst Solar Power Agreement

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hot Time on Ye Ol' Landfill

Now discredited concerns over red staining around the old landfill

On what would have been a great day to generate electricity via a solar farm, Amherst's Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello braved the hot weather, mosquitoes, and ticks to provide an educational hike across the wide open, unshaded old landfill for a presentation to nearly 40 residents on the proposed solar energy farm.  NIMBYs proved to be the bigger nuisance, however.

 Old Landfill provides wide open flat terrain (and a nice view)

In spite of repeated assertions that she did not want "to get into a political debate," nearby neighbors came to the event loaded for bear. Constant sniping about fencing,lighting, noise, and weight on the landfill cap gave way to a full on assault as one gentleman, his voice rising, branded the proceeding "propaganda" and then invoked his Viet Nam service to remind the crowd of the memorable line, "Sometimes you have to destroy the village in order to save it."

He then stormed off with a few angry folks following close behind, reminiscent of the very first public hearing the town promoted just over a year ago. The remaining crowd gave Ms. Ciccarello polite applause.

Stephanie Ciccarello (center with back to camera, white hat) answers question for Dick Stein retired UMass professor

Town Manager John Musante won by an overwhelming Town Meeting vote the right to negotiate a 30 year deal with Blue Wave Capital for a solar array potentially generating $1 million annually to the town while significantly reducing our carbon footprint. Blue Wave has also agreed that 25% of the workforce related to the construction of the site will be from Amherst.

Musante recently stated the lucrative deal was "inches from the goal line".

NIMBYs of course specialize in goal line defense.

Meanwhile on Sunday, not far from this heated public gathering, the South Amherst Congregational Church voted unanimously to install solar panels on their roof "in order to send a statement that we are stewards of the land ..."

South Amherst Congregational Church

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let the grading begin

 Moving "new dirt" at ye old landfill

The Amherst Department of Public Works commenced work on regrading the old landfill off Belchertown Road, a project required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as part of capping closure agreement signed in the late 1980s.

A landfill typically settles after organic material decomposes causing the clay cap to sag and allowing rainwater to collect in stagnant pools.  This phase of the regrading should only take a week and the 52 acre tract will start looking as level as a Cape Cod beach.

Of course a level playing field is also conducive to the installation of solar panels, a controversial project strongly opposed by neighbors in the adjacent Amherst Woods housing development who filed suit against the town last year using NIMBY lawyer Michael Pill.

Amherst was one of about 20 communities who took state money for capping with the provision the closed landfill never be used for anything except passive recreation.  A recent bill in the state legislature would nix that condition by making solar farms an acceptable--if not encouraged--use.

Last year Amherst Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly to allow Town Manager John Musante to negotiate a long term agreement with BlueWave Capital, a company founded by John DeVillars, former Secretary of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Today would have been a good day to generate electricity.
 Twins: mountain of dirt in shadow of Holyoke Range

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another cry of wolf

 Ye old landfill (capped and lined)

Last year as part of their PR campaign to dump Amherst Town Meeting article #24, which would allow the town manger free rein to negotiate a deal with BlueWave Capital for electricity generated by the proposed joint public/private solar farm, NIMBYs brought up the issue of an environmental catastrophe from run off oozing from ye old landfill.

Town officials used multiple credible sources to counter their alarmist allegations and Town Meeting went on to overwhelmingly approve article #24.  Not long after, those same NIMBYs filed a lawsuit against the town using everyone's favorite "just-say-no" attorney (unless it's for a library in his hometown of Shutesbury) Michael Pill.

The state legislature, however, will soon enact a bill to make his expensive lawsuit moot by releasing any municipality who accepted Department of Environmental Protection money for capping a landfill from the provision stating it could only then be used for passive recreation. 

Late this afternoon the town manager--via our official town website--issued a "Statement REGARDING SAFETY OF AMHERST'S MUNICIPAL DRINKING WATER" in response to "photographs of a wetland in the vicinity of Hop Brook circulated via email."

The 13 photos were anonymously uploaded by someone using the handle "ForcleanAmherst" on a free photo sharing website they only joined on Feburary 20.  The post is far from popular as most of the pictures have around 50 views.  Although those numbers are sure to go up after the town manager fired off his "newsflash" to all Amherst subscribers.

The nonexistent wolf has been slayed, again.

Red stuff explained

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Will Amherst rise to the challenge?

Could be worse, we could be Easthampton

Unless we have another major power outage through the New Year, safe bet that between now and December 31 Amherst will not suddenly quadruple its adherence to saving enough electricity to garner a free $10,000 (suggested list price no doubt) solar panel for our schools.

Too bad, because the schools could use a a lot of (free) light shed upon them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Bright Future for Solar in Amherst?

It will be interesting to watch how UMass deals with NIMBYs this time around--after the Gateway setback--on the solar farm project announced for 15 acres of former farm property just off Valley Lane where neighbors have already circled the wagons to cast shadows over the sun catching project.

Naturally the $10 or $12 million project, which will provide $200,000 in energy savings annually, will be tax exempt if constructed on UMass property, unlike the BlueWave proposal for the old landfill, which will be roughly the same scope but would pay around $175,000 in property taxes annually and provide low cost electricity to the town.

A far brighter deal for Amherst taxpayers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Town Strikes Back

Town officials are really starting to understand the power of the web. This just posted on the town website:

Town Files Papers to End Anti-Solar Project Lawsuit

In its Answer, the Town is asking the Superior Court to dismiss the suit.

"Our attorneys believe this lawsuit has no legal merit. This is a strong project that received overwhelming support from the Select Board and from Town Meeting and it has widespread support from the community at large," said Town Manager, John Musante. "Discussions with the Department of Environmental Protection are ongoing, and the project will proceed only if the Town has fully satisfied all DEP requirements."

The Town must seek permitting approval from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and from the Town of Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals.

"Some neighbors have concerns about the project, and I continue to reach out to them. Later this month, I will invite them to sit down with me and other Town officials to discuss mutually beneficial ideas about ways we can address those concerns through setbacks, buffers, and other measures," said Musante.

Town Counsel Joel Bard added, "We hope the neighbors will be willing to resolve their concerns with the Town. We think it’s clear, however, that the case should be dismissed and we will be making that argument to the court." -

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Solar in South Amherst

Looking east towards new storage facility (in red)

While not nearly as ambitious as the controversial 4.75 megawatt Solar Farm proposed for the towns' old landfill, the solar facility west of the new storage shed at Atkins Farm Market will provide all the power needs of the bustling business and with state and federal governments falling all over themselves to provide tax breaks and grants, probably a cost effective installation as well.

Since no homeowners are within sitelines of the modest installation and it is being constructed on private land not currently used for jogging, dog walking or nesting by a threatened species of tweety bird chances are, unlike the town Solar Farm, it will fly through the permitting process.

Atkins (founded 1887) is one of those rare private sector, for profit, businesses that is Politically Correct enough to easily negotiate the deadly Amherst permitting process, having recently won a coveted beer and wine license from the Amherst Select Board and property tax breaks from Town Meeting.

After all, farms have relied on sunlight forever.

One year later it was completed (June, 2012)

Monday, June 13, 2011

When all else fails, lawyer up

Click on Lawsuit for entire document

If a judge can throw out an arrest where perps are busted red handed with guns, drugs and a bootleg cable/Internet connection because the search warrant had the wrong house color or some such nonsense, then I suppose the NIMBY lawsuit filed against the town (and threatened against BlueWave Capital) to prevent a solar farm from sprouting on the old dump by citing a technicality, stands a snow in the Sahara.

The state is now on a crusade to encourage public/private renewable energy projects, and solar farms on old landfills is a shining example. The disputed deed restriction (or lack thereof) was/is between the town and the Department of Environmental Protection.

According to Boston based attorney John Wadsworth, who specializes in Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources law: "If there is any violation it is a violation of DEP solid waste regulations for not recording the restriction, not something that prevents DEP from revising the restriction for this use."

If DEP had any concerns, then why did they grant the permit last year for the Final Comprehensive Site Assessment?

Since the eight households have a combined assessed value of around $4 million, safe to say they can afford the litigation co-op entry fee (when Mary Streeter tried to rally NIMBYs on Larkspur Drive to legally battle the decision to allow Dr. Kate Atkinson to build a medical office in the Research Park out that way the entry fee would have been $2,000 each).

But the $8,000 to $10,000 cost to squash this nuisance lawsuit will be spread out over 10,000 housing units who will benefit many times over by the $1 million per year net gain in economic benefit to the town. A bright future indeed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stop the sun from shining

Save the sparrow message fell flat at Town Meeting

Not surprisingly 13 NIMBY residents filed suit in Hampshire Superior Court casting yet another shadow over the old landfill where town officials hope a private company can construct a solar farm, a potential $1 million annual net gain for town taxpayers while reducing our dependence on oil and other bad by-products of energy production.

I suppose if the neighbors can afford the castles that ring the old landfill they can afford Micheal Pill of Shutesbury, a lawyer who specializes in land use issues. Although Mr. Pill did not have shining results--other than delaying the project and running up a tab--when he took on the town over low income housing on Longmeadow Drive at neighbor request, or when Town Meeting rezoned property out on Meadow Street to flood prone conservancy.

In only a few months the neighborhood concerns have ricocheted from (1) 30 or 40 mysterious barrels of potentially dangerous chemicals buried in the old landfill back in the 1970s by DPW workers under orders from a grouchy boss, to (2) lead arsenate soil from the Atkins Road reconstruction project being used to regrade the old landfill cap, to (3) the alleged serious degradation of the protective cap with added weight of solar panels causing a catastrophic crack; and now it's protection of the grasshopper sparrow, a little birdie that is only "rare" and not "endangered".

Obviously NIMBYs will never go extinct--especially in the People's Republic.

Diana Spurgin fell flat at Town Meeting

The Springfield Republican reports (ahead of the Gazette)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Solar sanity outshines gloom and doom

Town Manager John Musante addresses Town Meeting

UPDATE: So I feel like I had ring side seats to Custer's Last Stand last night as the "fight" put up by concerned neighbors was far less effective than the blond haired General in search of glory. And the final results exactly the same. Utter, devastating, defeat.

When NIMBY general Rich Spurgin's first amendment, requiring a minimum financial return threshold be guaranteed, failed so miserably the handwriting was etched on the wall in neon spray paint.
Professor Spugin leads the ill-fated charge

Spurgin's second amendment--and that was a mistake in not leading with your best case--concerning supposed "safety" issues fared even worse, although that's hard to imagine going down any lower in support.

So very far-and-away overwhelming that not a single member dared to voice "I doubt it" to force a standing vote (rules of town meeting require a standing vote if even a single member doubts the voice vote.)

Now of course the neighbors will resort to Plan B and hire an attorney who will file a case in landcourt something about this being for all intents and purposes a "taking by eminent domain" as their expensive property will no longer be as useful to them as the 'Oh Happy Day' they originally purchased it.

And so it goes in the People's Republic, where the sun seldom sets on discussions of self interest.

ORIGINAL POST (last night):

After a contentious two hour debate with opponents raising the spectre of an environmental disaster and more mundane concerns over the financial uncertainty of locking into a 30 year deal, and proponents trumpeting the $1 million annual net gain to the treasury via energy savings and equipment taxes while reducing the towns carbon footprint, Amherst Town Meeting this evening voted overwhelmingly to allow Town Manager John Musante the authority to enter into a long-term contract with Blue Wave Capital to construct a 4.75 megawatt solar farm on the old landfill.
A packed Town Meeting

Neighbors around the targeted site quickly organized resistance to the ambitious long term project and jam packed a public meeting in early April to bicker and snicker at town officials, started a website laden with doomsday predictions, purchased a half-page in last week's Amherst Bulletin, direct mailed material to all town meeting members and some even joined that legislative body via the most recent election.

Dave Keenan speaking against the deal while using a prop

A visibly angry Vince O'Connor speaking against the article after being interrupted by a "point of order" when he mentioned how his protest resume included Seabrook Nuclear Plant in the late 1970s and a draft resistance arrest in the mid 1960s resulting in federal prison time.

The old trot out the kids and dog routine

Now that the first big hill has been successfully scaled, the next step is for the Town Manager to come up with a contract that will be approved by the Select Board (the executive branch) and for the state Department of Environmental Protection to give final approval for using the highly regulated landfill as a solar farm. Both safe bets.

The next major mountain to climb is getting the Zoning Board of Appeals to issue a Special Permit, which requires a unanimous vote. In 2002 the ZBA voted down (2-1) the town's proposal to increase the height of the newer (now closed) landfill by ten feet which would have generated millions of dollars in revenues to the town.
ARTICLE 24. Authorize Term of Lease for Old Landfill (Select Board)

To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Town Manager to lease all or any portion of the Old Landfill across Belchertown Road from the existing Transfer Station from time to time by one or more leases for such term of years up to 30 years and for such consideration as the Town Manager shall determine, for the purpose of installing and operating thereon a solar array for electric power generation and distribution, and to authorize the Town Manager to grant such easements in, on, under and across over said land for utility and access purposes, as reasonably necessary to install and operate such a solar array, and further to authorize the Town Manager to enter into a power purchase agreement with any lessee of such property to purchase all or a portion of the electricity production of the solar array and to enter into an agreement with the local utility to participate in the Net Metering program pursuant to the Acts of 2008, c. 169, §78, the so-called Green Communities Act, as may be amended.