By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
HARTLAND – Solar Technologies Manager Don McCormick of Norwich Solar Technologies presented Select Board members with a request for support for a preferred site status Monday evening.
“We look ahead at sites that we could possibly purchase, and we have found a property on the corner of U.S. Route 4 and Route 12,” said McCormick. “We would like to put a 500 kw/ac ground-mounted solar array on the southwest corner of the junction between the two roads.”
The overall site is bounded on the north by Route 4. The existing band of trees between the road and the intended solar site would be left intact, McCormick noted.
“In all, the project will occupy approximately 3.5 acres with approximately 4.3 acres of clearing,” McCormick said. “We’re seeking the town’s support and then to send that off to Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission and, from there, the public service board to grant us a site status after submitting the certificate of public good.”
McCormick explained to board members that Vermont has a set goal for solar energy including sites, and ultimately Hartland will be expected — as a pro-rated portion — to participate in renewable energy milestones.
“The public service board has now requested towns to adopt in their town plan a standard for site status and ideally identify places that would be appropriate,” said McCormick. “This would include good guidelines as well.”
Most towns have not had the chance to incorporate these into their plans, however, McCormick related.
“A town could still consider a site or sites,” said McCormick. “So we have sought several sites around the state and have found eight or so and this is one that is very appropriate because it cannot be seen, even in the winter. It is well screened except to the abutter who nonetheless has agreed with the project and has given us permission for it.”
McCormick indicated that the board would only be weighing in as far as the town of Hartland is concerned. There are state permits and procedures that still need to be approved. A certificate of public good has to be given the state nod.
“There are state rules independent of a town’s authority that make an area a preferred site,” said McCormick. McCormick said his company wants to see solar where it is physically appropriate.
“We hope we and you would be on the same page for this property,” said McCormick. We’re asking that the town support the project for the preferred site status.”
The board gave its nod and will designate its decision in a letter to that effect. Members will sign once the document has been amended to specify “preferred site status” rather than the project itself.
McCormick indicated that his company has “high confidence” that the project will eventually come to fruition. “I don’t think there is any doubt on this one,” said McCormick.
In other business, Board Chair Gordon Richardson made a formal introduction of the new Town Manager David Ormiston.
“We are confident that Dave will serve the town well,” said Richardson. “We welcome him.”
The recent torrential rains last weekend caused serious road damage, according to Board Chair Gordon Richardson. Road Foreman and Fire Department Lieutenant Bill Barrows related that cleanup work has needed to be done on culverts and ditches as a result. Barrows indicated that his crew was out from 6 p.m.-3 a.m. on Sunday as a result of the storm.
Richardson wondered if there is town policy concerning driveway culverts.
“Do homeowners have some responsibility to keep them open?” Richardson asked. “At least they could keep an eye on them. Sometimes all it takes is a shovel or something to poke at them which makes a world of difference.”
Board member Matt Peeler indicated that he did not think that many owners participate in that maintenance.
The Board and Town Manager thanked Barrows for his work.
The next Select Board meeting is slated for Monday, July 10, at 5:30 p.m. The 21 Route 12 Committee will meet shortly after at 6:30 p.m. at the Lowrey House.
This article first appeared in the July 6, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard.