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Decision on Athol  solar project postponed

ATHOL — A Zoning Board meeting to consider the Planning Board’s decision to issue a site plan review for a controversial 3-megawatt solar farm on Bearsden Road is continued until March 27.

The Zoning Board will take up the appeal of the Planning Board’s special permit for a solar farm proposed to bring renewable energy and lower electric costs for Athol Memorial Hospital, the Athol YMCA, the Adams Farm Slaughterhouse and municipal buildings in Warwick and Petersham.

Four Bearsden Road abutters of the project — Kelly Chase, Donna Rousselle and John and Linda Jackson —appealed the planner’s site plan review for the project and the building inspector’s issuance of a building permit. The abutters then called for a cease-and-desist order in December to stop further construction and the operation of the farm’s slaughterhouse.

In a press release, the abutters argued the project has deleteriously impacted the public health, safety and welfare of the rural, residential neighborhood to “allow corporate forcing of a commercial/industrial project without attending fully to our ongoing objections and concerns/questions.”

The project is owned by Soltas Energy Corp.

It would be located on a rocky, 22-acre portion of the 128-acre farm and include 12,000 panels. Athol Memorial Hospital would receive about two-thirds of the project’s output. The remaining 1 megawatt of the 3-megawatt solar farm would be divided evenly between Adams Farm, the YMCA and the two towns’ municipal buildings.

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