A map shows Farmington Falls Road where developers propose building a solar farm on farmland. Landowners on Davis Road told selectmen Tuesday they’re concerned about it being near their properties. Google maps screen capture

FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday night approved consulting with the town’s attorney to see if a moratorium on solar farms can be authorized.

An application for a solar farm was submitted Monday for routes 2 and 27, the Farmington Falls Road, near the intersection with Davis Road.

Eight landowners on Davis Road would be affected by the solar farm. One, Adrian Harris, said he learned of the project two weeks ago.

Some abutters attended the Oct. 20 Zoning Board meeting to discuss the project but the board took no action.

Speaking for abutters, Rob Martin asked selectmen to approve changing the setback for solar farms from 75 to 500 feet from abutting properties.

“That’s what we would love to have happen,” he said. “If that’s not possible we would at least like to stop the momentum.”


Martin suggested instituting a moratorium.

A plan suitable for all landowner rights and lessening environmental impacts were reasons given for changes. Setbacks and stipulations in the town’s marijuana ordinance were given as examples for doing something similar with solar.

“We can’t stop it,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Matthew Smith said. “The application was put in yesterday. I talked with Steven Kaiser (head of the town Code Enforcement and Planning Office) this morning.” Changes may be made for future projects if the town wishes but not for this one, Smith said.

If the project comes to fruition, it would be the second one in Farmington.

“Let’s not call it a done deal, let’s pursue it with attorneys,” Martin said. “I think we need to slow it down. We don’t need another Bussie York (solar farm). I don’t want to repeat that, find a way to let the town have some control.”

Martin was referring to the massive 490-acre, $110 million solar farm nearing completion at Sandy River Farms owned by York. The farm, at 560 Farmington Falls Road, is renting about 500 acres for the 300,000 solar panels to builder Farmington Solar, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources. The town will receive about $20 million in taxes during the 30-year lease agreement.


“I appreciate that you want to slow it down,” Smith said. “Where the application has already been put in, it’s my belief we can’t. Not on this project. I don’t have enough facts in front of me.”

Selectmen can confer with the town’s attorney about a moratorium since Adrian Harris did make a request of the Zoning Board prior to the application being submitted, Selectman Joshua Bell said.

“We can’t change the Zoning Ordinance,” he said. “It’s not so cut and dried.”

Martin thought the town had known for some time that the solar project was coming.

“I didn’t know about this until a Zoning Board member called me,” Bell said.

Planning Board member Judith Murphy said she learned of it when she attended the Oct. 20 Zoning Board meeting. The Planning Board will consider the application at the next meeting. It’s not in a position to just refuse it — the board needs a reason, she noted.

“I heard about this yesterday,” Selectman Scott Landry said. “It amazes me that they can be working on this project and no one knows about it.”

The Zoning Board didn’t do its job, passed the buck, Smith said. “Down the road I’m hoping we can get this so everyone’s happy. Obviously farmers aren’t making it. Personally I would rather see this than houses.”

The massive 490-acre, $110 million solar farm at Sandy River Farms, lower, left, is nearing completion at 560 Farmington Falls Road in Farmington. Farmington Solar, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, is erecting 300,000 solar panels on land rented from farm owner Bussie York. Farmington will receive about $20 million in taxes during the course of the 30-year lease. Russ Dillingham

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.