Orange Planning Board OKs solar project

  • An aerial image of where a solar array will be built at 180 West Orange Road in Orange. Contributed image

Recorder Staff
Thursday, November 02, 2017

ORANGE — The town’s Planning Board has given the green light to a solar project at 180 West Orange Road after getting feedback from abutters and other concerned citizens at two public hearing sessions.

The board voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to allow West Orange Solar LLC to install a ground-mounted solar array and any accessories associated with it, contingent upon certain conditions being met.

West Orange Solar LLC is the local project entity of Allston-based Oak Square Partners, a group of solar developers made up of Sevag Khatchadourian, brothers John and Demetri Typadis and some outside investors.

John Typadis said the developers hope to start building the array at the beginning of 2018.

“We’re just really excited to get started in Orange,” he said.

Solar arrays like this one make money by selling power.

Among the seven conditions stipulated in the Planning Board’s decision are a 100-foot well setback consistent with Orange Board of Health regulations, vegetative grass coverage on 75 to 80 percent of the property after construction is completed, and establishment of an escrow account to provide for the repair or replacement of the existing well at 170 West Orange Road. This account must be established by the owner of 170 West Orange Road and West Orange Solar LLC lessees. There can also be no blasting, herbicides, pesticides or growth regulators used on the property.

The voting Planning Board members at Town Hall on Monday night were Chairman Richard Sheridan, members Marc Ostberg and Mercedes Clingerman and alternate Al Noyes.

The property at 180 West Orange Road is owned by mother and son Helen and John Dubyoski, who live in Trumbull, Conn., and were present at the continued public hearing.

Denise Andrews, a resident, was present to voice some concerns over the development, though she stressed that she supports solar projects in general. Jane Peirce also had objections, both as an individual and as Health Board chairwoman. That board authorized Peirce to send the town an email (shared with The Recorder) to express disappointment about being “deprived of a true opportunity to thoughtfully and comprehensively review and comment on this application.”

The email states a spring-fed water supply on the property of Travis Knetchel, who was also present Monday, is especially vulnerable to sedimentation and erosion from site run-off and should have extra protection in addition to the 100-foot well setback.

Peirce sent the town a separate email (also shared with The Recorder) as a resident of 64 South Shore Drive to share other concerns. She said social, economic and community needs are not served through this project because no long-term jobs will be created, and no local energy offsets or benefits will result. She also said neighborhood character and social structure are disrupted because the site is in a forested landscape.

Peirce also said potential fiscal impact is unknown.

Oak Square Partners also oversees the array at 1006 Templeton Road in Athol, under Athol Solar Holdings LLC. John Typadis said that project is going well.