Shutesbury asks solar project developers to do more thorough archeological analysis

  • Stock image of a solar array. Courtesy of Metro Creative Graphics. Metro Creative Graphics

For The Recorder
Published: 8/17/2016 11:38:24 PM

SHUTESBURY — The Planning Board Wednesday voted to ask that developers behind a controversial proposed 6-megawatt solar project agree to do a more thorough archeological analysis of the site.

The board in June approved a special permit for W.D. Cowls and Lake Street to construct the 20-acre array off Pratt Corner Road with conditions in response to concerns by some residents and Native Americans that the land could be the site of burial grounds or other places of cultural significance. One of those conditions included a requirement that the applicants perform an archeological assessment of the site.

The archaeological report completed by SWCA Environmental Consultants’ principal investigator Jessica Schumer indicates that mounds visible on the site are from plant roots, and not burials. But several people, including an archeologist hired by the town to review SWCA’s assessment, disagreed with the firm’s methodology.

Eric Johnson, director of archeological services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said he found significant shortcomings in the SWCA report, though he concurs with its findings.

Johnson said SWCA failed to include in the report historical context about Native American land use in the area and wider region. He also recombined additional survey techniques, including ground penetrating radar and soil testing and having a Native American cultural representative visit the property.

The applicants have declined to allow representatives from local Native American tribes on the property.

The board voted unanimously on a resolution asking the applicants to consider Johnson’s recommendations and gave them two weeks to respond. The applicants are not required to abide by those recommendations.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy