Voters OK land for solar projects
By Thomas D’Agostino
WEBSTER - It is Monday, February 13, 7:00 p.m., the meeting is slated to begin, yet a quorum has not been met. 7:12, three more voting residents needed for a quorum. 7:18, one shy. 7:20, a quorum of the necessary sixty residents is finally met and the Webster Special Town Meeting is called to order.
The special meeting was held for the town to pass four articles sponsored by Town Administrator John McAuliffe and recommended by the Board of selectmen and Finance Committee for approval. Article 1 was a request to transfer $225,000 from Free Cash to the Stabilization Fund. This article unanimously passed.
Article 2, a vote to transfer $34,887.19 from Free Cash to fund the current fiscal year’s incremental cost items contained in the Memorandum of Agreement between the town and IBPO Local 428 for the period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2012. $31, 887.19 of this sum was for the Police Patrolmen/Sergeant’s Salaries Account and $3,000 for the Police Clothing Allowance Account. A majority vote was needed and met with but one nay.
The residents, with one nay, also passed article 3. This was to transfer the sum of $21, 825.36 from Free Cash to fund prior years’ incremental cost items as above, with. $15,625.36 going to the Police Patrolmen/Sergeant’s Salaries Account and $6,200 to the Police Clothing Allowance Account.
One resident, opposed to the article, expressed concern as to why the police should receive cost of living increases. Mr.McAuliffe explained that the percentage, zero percent, one percent, one percent, and one percent was the over a three-year period of a two percent cost of living adjustment and a one percent bump on the last day of the contract. “We do live in a working world with collective bargaining agreements…any municipalities where you see zeros and ones, that’s about the best you’re going to do. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We end up in either a fact-finding, or a mediation, or an arbitration scenario. This has dragged on for an extended period of time,” he said.
Article 4 was the largest of the warrants for the meeting. This was to see if the town would vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to lease two parcels of town-owned land to a solar developer for the purpose of installing and operating a solar photovoltaic array and for the town administrator to negotiate and enter into a power purchase agreement with the developer on behalf of the town.
The two parcels of land for the proposed sites are the Municipal Landfill at 15/33 Cudworth Road and the Wastewater Treatment Plant at 0 School/38 Hill Street. The solar array is part of a statewide project. According to Mr. McAuliffe, Massachusetts is one of two states in the Union presently looking at such an energy alternative. The state has incentives for the town to have developers install, operate and maintain the solar arrays. The town would enjoy revenue from these projects by either receiving lease payments or participating in a Power Purchase Agreement. The project would also provide the town with a clean renewable source of energy while reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.
The panels would sit only three feet off the ground thus making them almost invisible behind trees and brush cover. Wetlands, rare species and other sensitive natural resources, if present, will affect the size of the sites. The selected solar developer will obtain all local, state, and federal environmental permits required for the project. The town will accept bids and then solicit them. The sites in question are already disturbed and would not need a significant amount of additional clearing. The sites also have on-site electrical loads making them ready for the project.
The vote was passed unanimously.
For more information on the project you may contact the Town Administrator’s office or the DPW.
- Tuesday, 14 February 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News