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Dennis-Yarmouth solar plan in limbo

Proponents of an ambitious solar project proposed for Dennis and Yarmouth schools are impatiently waiting for the Yarmouth Zoning Board of Appeals to formally file its Aug. 8 denial of the plan's special permit. Once the decision is on record with the town clerk, proponents can appeal it in court, if they choose.

Proponents of an ambitious solar project proposed for Dennis and Yarmouth schools are impatiently waiting for the Yarmouth Zoning Board of Appeals to formally file its Aug. 8 denial of the plan's special permit.

Once the decision is on record with the town clerk, proponents can appeal it in court, if they choose.

At issue is a plan to install roof- and ground-mounted solar arrays, capable of collecting 2 megawatts of power, on school properties in the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District.

The project secured all necessary approvals in Dennis, but failed to obtain a special permit Yarmouth requires for the ground-mounted solar panels. Ground mounts represent 65 percent of the total project.

Liz Argo, spokeswoman for the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which arranged the energy venture for the school district, said the panels must be installed by June to collect on renewable energy certificates and financial incentives offered by the state Department of Energy Resources,

"There is a great feeling that time is of the essence," Argo said. "It's critical."

While stopping short of saying it would sue the appeals board, the cooperative issued a statement... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Proponents of an ambitious solar project proposed for Dennis and Yarmouth schools are impatiently waiting for the Yarmouth Zoning Board of Appeals to formally file its Aug. 8 denial of the plan's special permit.

Once the decision is on record with the town clerk, proponents can appeal it in court, if they choose.

At issue is a plan to install roof- and ground-mounted solar arrays, capable of collecting 2 megawatts of power, on school properties in the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District.

The project secured all necessary approvals in Dennis, but failed to obtain a special permit Yarmouth requires for the ground-mounted solar panels. Ground mounts represent 65 percent of the total project.

Liz Argo, spokeswoman for the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative, which arranged the energy venture for the school district, said the panels must be installed by June to collect on renewable energy certificates and financial incentives offered by the state Department of Energy Resources,

"There is a great feeling that time is of the essence," Argo said. "It's critical."

While stopping short of saying it would sue the appeals board, the cooperative issued a statement following a closed-door meeting Wednesday.

"We are continuing to evaluate options and prepare for actions that will hopefully change the outcome to a positive one for residents of Yarmouth and the D-Y school district."

Meanwhile, the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School Committee, which oversees six schools in the two towns, will take up the issue tonight.

"We're going to have an executive session to talk about the litigation aspects and see what we can do," said Superintendent Carol Woodbury.

Once denied a permit, a project can't be taken back before the appeals board for two years. Applicants can, however, file a court appeal or substantially change a proposal. The planning board would review the new plan to determine whether changes were significant enough for applicants to return to the appeals board.

The appeals board has up to 90 days to file its decisions, which could have proponents waiting until November, but chairman Steven DeYoung said he's not stalling on this one.

"I expect to have it done by the beginning of next week," he said Friday.

DeYoung was the only member to vote in favor of granting the permit. "My hope is they will find some way to build it," he said.

Under state law, a permit for a solar project can be denied only on grounds of public health, safety and welfare.

Zoning board members cited safety issues, saying children could scale the 8-foot fences around the ground-mounted panels. They also cited public welfare, saying the panels would be visible from the street and devalue nearby properties.

Jeffrey Wootan, director of business development for Broadway Electrical Co. Inc., the company hired to install and operate the solar panels, called the appeals board's decision unusual.

"We're doing projects in 57 towns, and this is the first time I've seen a school project turned down," Wootan said. "We save teachers' jobs. That's pretty important."

Yarmouth Town Administrator William Hinchey said selectmen have been working closely with the schools to address their constant financial challenges. Selectmen strongly supported the solar proposal, he said.

"The district has a huge energy budget," Hinchey said. "There was also some benefit to the town."

According to Argo, the panels would result in a minimum of $141,000 in energy savings in their first year of operation.

While proponents weigh their legal options, they plan to move forward with the parts of the project unaffected by the permit denial, such as installation of roof panels at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and Mattacheese Middle School, both in Yarmouth, and roof panels at Ezra Baker Innovation School and ground-mounts at Nathaniel Wixon Innovation School, both in Dennis.

 


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

AUG 20 2013
https://www.windaction.org/posts/38053-dennis-yarmouth-solar-plan-in-limbo
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