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Town Council tackles Lunt, solar farms this week

GREENFIELD — Town Council will tackle two larger issues this week — whether to buy the former Lunt Silversmiths factory property and whether to allow large solar arrays in certain areas of town.

The council will meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the studio in Greenfield Community Television.

Mayor William Martin has asked the council to authorize $75,000 for a down payment for the Lunt property on Federal Street, which the town has offered to buy for $1.5 million.

Martin has said for the last two years the town has leased the property that Greenfield should keep control of it and clean it up.

The mayor said the town will finish cleaning up the property, paying for the cleanup with grants.

Martin said the town could own the property by next spring and would put out a request for proposals to developers.

The mayor said he would like to see the baseball fields stay there, but would also like to see someone redevelop the Federal Street end of the property, possibly for commercial use.

Some councilors have voiced their concerns about not having enough information to take a vote on the matter on Wednesday. Several said they want to make sure the town doesn’t buy a property that becomes a financial burden.

Town Council will discuss the issue, allow the public to comment on the purchase, and take a vote — that could be to approve the $75,000, deny it, or table the issue and talk about it at a later date.

The council will also be asked to vote on whether to allow large solar arrays, like the one on the town’s capped landfill, to be installed in rural areas of Greenfield.

Those who have expressed concerns have said they want to find a way to keep the “rural aesthetics and character” of the land, while moving away from fossil fuel dependence and aren’t sure how to do so.

The Planning Board and the council’s Economic Development Committee have worked for months on changes to zoning rules they believe everyone will be happy with, by putting rules, restrictions and safeguards on future projects.

Currently the town only allows large-scale solar arrays by right in industrial districts.

If the new rules pass, they would be allowed in other districts — rural residential, suburban residential, general commercial and office — but would need a special permit and site plan review to be installed in those.

The height of such installations could not exceed 20 feet and would have to be screened by a minimum of 15-foot-wide, staggered plantings.

The vote has been delayed twice, so that the council and other town boards could research the issue more and hold more public forums.

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