NEWS

Council to reconsider solar ordinance Aug. 16

By JOHN HOWELL
Posted 7/29/21

By JOHN HOWELL Those favoring, those opposed and those who agree with some but not all of an ordinance that would give the city the tools to regulate solar developments will have the opportunity to voice their points of view Aug. 16. (The Beacon

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NEWS

Council to reconsider solar ordinance Aug. 16

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Those favoring, those opposed and those who agree with some but not all of an ordinance that would give the city the tools to regulate solar developments will have the opportunity to voice their points of view Aug. 16. (The Beacon mistakenly reported last week that the city would consider the ordinance on Aug. 30.)

This will be the second time around for the ordinance with its proposed overlay district of residential zones that some say opens the door to solar arrays and the cutting of trees to the detriment of the environment. Planners argue it gives the council control and the opportunity to reap benefits for the city, including the long-range preservation of open space.

Those points were well articulated before the council ordinance committee last month. The committee recommended approval and the council granted first passage. Opponents were not placated by minor revisions in the ordinance, and when it came up for second passage, questions were raised whether the ordinance had been properly advertised and it could be legally challenged. After more than two hours of testimony, the committee entertained a motion to amend the name of the legislation. It passed, which technically restarted the process.

The ordinance is now being advertised and in order for it to become law will require first and second council passage.

The only change in the ordinance to be reviewed on Aug. 16 and that considered for second passage this month is the name.

Principal Planner Lucas Murray said the ordinance has been properly advertised. He said the city has a registry, which was questioned and thought to be reason for legal action, where people can sign up to be notified of changes in local regulations and procedures.

“We already had a registry but called it differently,” Murray said.

Mayor Frank Picozzi said no matter whether you are for or opposed to the ordinance, the city needs regulations for solar developments. Picozzi understands the role trees play in the removal of carbon dioxide and checking global warming, but he notes property owners have the right to take down trees. Furthermore, he observed that once property has been privately developed, there’s little to no chance of preserving it as open space.

With use of the proposed overlay that would give the council the power to negotiate a benefit to the city, it could require the site of a solar array to become city property at the end of the life of the array or 25 to 35 years.

Murray said Wednesday he plans to concentrate less on the ordinance when heard Aug. 16 and focus on specific concerns residents have raised.

solar, ordinance

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