A petition article submitted for Spring Town Meeting will ask Mashpee voters to consider whether to allow a solar overlay district that would encompass about 40 acres of land south of Route 151.
The planning board voted unanimously during its virtual meeting on Wednesday, February 17, to hold a public hearing on the petition article on March 17 at 7:10 PM.
The lead petitioner on the article, William Haney, is the owner of the approximately 40 acres of land off Route 151 where the solar overlay district would be established if approved by Town Meeting.
Should Town Meeting approve the petition article, Mr. Haney could seek a special permit from the planning board to construct a medium- or large-scale solar energy system on the property. The ground-mounted solar system would have to abide by setbacks, include fencing and security, and meet other requirements laid out in the 17-page article by petition.
Town Planner Evan Lehrer said that language in the article by petition is “generally consistent” with language that the planning board had previously vetted in anticipation of submitting solar zoning articles for Town Meeting last year.
When solar zoning articles did not come before Town Meeting last year, in part because the board of selectmen expressed concern that the articles could incentivize developers to clear-cut vacant land to construct industrial-scale solar energy systems, Mr. Haney approached the town to express his intent to construct solar on his property near Route 151, Mr. Lehrer said.
The town indicated to Mr. Haney that he could submit an article by petition to create a solar overlay district for his property and suggested that the language of the article be consistent with the language already vetted by the planning board, Mr. Lehrer said.
The article by petition would apply only to the 40 acres of property south of Route 151 owned by Mr. Haney and would not extend to other properties in town, Mr. Lehrer said.
“This is not a town initiative but an initiative from a private property owner,” he said. “It is not suggesting deployment of solar energy throughout the town’s wooded areas or on any vacant lots; it would be contained to the lots owned by the property owner.”
The selectmen are expected to discuss the Town Meeting warrant, including the article by petition, before the public hearing scheduled for next month, Mr. Lehrer said.