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Leverett eases regs for solar array

LEVERETT — Town voters have allowed installation of a solar array on land between Leverett Elementary School and the Public Safety Complex.

The required zoning changes, approved by 150 voters in a special town meeting Tuesday, were needed because the array is a 15-kilowatt, ground-mounted system and will be on the municipal land in a residential village zone where such installations are not allowed. The parcel currently includes the elementary school, library and safety complex.

Additionally, the changes will exempt the array from having to undergo a site plan review to ensure that it conforms to local zoning ordinances and from having to comply with the town’s setback requirement, which states that a pole-mounted array must be 100 feet from the road. The array will only have to meet the normal 40-foot requirement applied to all other buildings in town.

The array will be installed by the Solar Store of Greenfield on a south-facing slope behind the two buildings and will be used to offset energy costs at the safety complex and school. According to a description of the structure read by Selectboard member Julia Shively, the array will be composed of five 13-foot-long solar panels mounted on 16-foot tall poles and will be visible from the street.

According to Town Administrator Margie McGinnis, the project will cost $98,016. It will be funded by a $138,750 grant that the town was awarded last year under the Massachusetts Green Communities Program.

In other business, voters approved transferring $13,406.16 in Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements to the Highway Department’s equipment account, and $214.24 from the town’s available funds to pay a Zoning Board of Appeals bill from a prior year.

According to William Stratford, the town’s highway superintendent, the money will be used to help pay for clean-up costs related to storms such as Tropical Storm Irene and the major snowstorm in late October of 2011.

Residents also voted to delay action on an article to pay about $10,000 for the removal of a collapsed barn at 1 Dudleyville Road to the annual Town Meeting in the spring. According to Select Board Chairman Richard Brazeau the move was recommended to give the building’s owner, Steven Blinn, more time to clean it up himself.

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