Site plan approved for Railroad Yard Road solar project

  • The northern portion of the lot designated for a ground-mounted solar array in East Deerfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2019 8:28:17 AM

DEERFIELD — With community support on its side, the town’s Planning Board voted to approve a site plan review pertaining to a ground-mounted solar project proposed for a 20-acre site at 100 Railroad Yard Road on Pan Am Southern property.

Chairman John Waite paraphrased a letter signed by 35 abutters and other nearby residents in support of the project, and there was one abstention in an otherwise unanimous vote that followed a public hearing. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Recorder, voiced approval of Mass RE: 12 LLC’s plan for a solar project expected to produce 2.5 megawatts of direct-current electricity. Max Antes Jr. was the abstention on the Planning Board.

Reading from the letter at the Wednesday meeting, Waite said abutters were initially concerned about the clear-cutting of trees reducing what is a natural noise buffer, but they realize any project at the site could potentially cut down those trees.

River Road resident Ava Gibbs said she and her husband collected most of the 35 signatures by going door to door. She said she regularly hears noise coming from the railroad yard at night, but she is not worried about a drastic increase with a solar project, because “nothing is perfect.”

“All things being equal, this is the best possible development in our neighborhood,” she said. “The railroad will put anything in there. They don’t care. They don’t care.”

The letter also states the development will create tax revenue for the town and generate more fossil-free energy.

Planning Board member John Baronas asked the audience of seven if everyone supports the proposed project and it appeared they all nodded in agreement. He said he had never before seen a group of residents band together to support a project, and was wondering if anyone present was opposed, because that may have influenced his vote.

Kyle Purdy, a wetlands specialist at Environmental Resources Management, the Boston consulting service applying for a special permit on behalf of Mass RE: 12 LLC, again appeared before the Deerfield Planning Board on Wednesday. He was joined by John Drobinski, a geologist with ERM, and Matt Noehre, a project manager for Urban Green Technologies, the project’s developer.

Purdy explained the proposed solar project would produce 2.5 megawattts of direct-current electricity. Drobinski previously told The Recorder direct current, the opposite of alternating current, is electricity that goes in one direction only. He said direct current is converted into alternating current, which is used in homes and buildings. The original plan was to produce 2.7 megawatts, but Purdy said the developer has elected to use smaller panels that are more efficient.

Purdy said two solar arrays, on parcels separated by private land, will cover roughly 4 acres.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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