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Leasing Land for Solar Use on Mendon Warrant

An article placed on Mendon's February 24 Special Town Meeting warrant is asking residents to allow town officials to lease town-owned, Taft Orchard Property, 36 Milford St. (Rt. 16), for solar use. The Special Town Meeting will take place at Miscoe Hill School and begin at 7 p.m.

During a January 27 meeting, the Board voted unanimously to hire SunDurance Energy, a solar energy company that develops, designs, builds and operates large-scale solar power units. However, the collaboration is pending residents' approval to lease the land. If residents pass the article, the Board will then begin contract negotiations with SunDurance.

For some time, the Board has been working with Northeast Real Estate Solutions to evaluate the best options for the Taft Orchard Property. A number of developers have stated their interest in constructing a solar farm on a portion of the 32 acres of land, which could eventually result in large cost savings for the town. A total of three RFPs were answered for the project; one of which was from SunDurance Energy.

Previous conversations have stated a three megawatt system would be constructed, which according to Northeast Real Estate Solutions representative Duncan Chapman would utilize approximately 15 acres of the back portion of the land. It was reported previously that if a three megawatt system were developed, revenue to the town was estimated at $1.6 million over 20 years.

If the article to lease the land is approved at the February Town Meeting and a contract is signed with SunDurance, the project still has to go through the usual permitting process, receive approval from the Planning Board, and also be approved by National Grid.

Other articles on the draft warrant show three bylaw amendments being brought forward by the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board.

The Conservation Commission is seeking a minor wording change to the Wetlands Protection Bylaw concerning payment at public hearings.

The Planning Board is bringing two bylaw amendments forward. One is concerning the town's Allowable Land Uses and replacing it with a new section titled Uses of Land and Structures. According to Planning Board Chairman Bill Ambrosino, 90 percent of the bylaw is the same. "Basically what we're doing is taking what used to be in paragraph form and putting it into a Use Table," he said. Ambrosino strongly encourages residents to review the bylaw on the warrant before voting.

Should the Uses of Land and Structures Bylaw pass, the following article on the warrant reflects housekeeping changes that "will clean up other bylaws," said Ambrosino. Any questions regarding the Planning Board's bylaws should be directed to the Planning Board Office at 508-473-2679.

Additional articles on the warrant include Community Preservation Act funding requests and financial articles for police department overtime, and Town Hall computer expenses, among others. The complete warrant can be found on the town's Web site at www.mendonma.gov.




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