FARMINGTON — A moratorium will not be placed on solar farms, selectmen decided at their meeting Wednesday.

The 3-1 vote included selectmen Michael Fogg, Scott Landry and Matthew Smith in favor of the moratorium, and selectman Joshua Bell opposed. Selectman Stephan Bunker was absent.

At the Oct. 26 meeting, several landowners addressed the board with their concerns about a proposed solar project. Clearwater Solar Partners, in care of Allen Tate of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, had submitted an application for a solar farm the day before.

The proposed location is the former Nusman farm on Routes 2 and 27, the Farmington Falls Road, near the intersection with Davis Road. About 33 of the 240 acres owned by Bill Stasiowski and Anne Myers of West Newbury, Massachusetts, would be used.

Some abutters to the proposed site attended the Oct. 20 Zoning Board meeting to discuss their concerns, but no action was taken. The abutters requested increasing setbacks from 75 to 500 feet, or imposing a moratorium.

Because concerns had been brought to the Zoning Board before the application was submitted, the selectmen approved consulting the town’s attorney on the moratorium.


“We’re trying to make sure we fit in with your community,” Tate said Wednesday. “Since our application, we have taken some steps back on our original project.”

The setback from Adrian Harris’ residence is now 520 feet and 1,338 feet from Rob Martin’s, Tate said. The field next to Martin’s will stay a cattle pasture and there will be a substantial wooded buffer

Changing to 500 foot setbacks would “essentially kill a lot of development activity,” he said.

According to Maine Municipal Association legal services information, requirements when a development moratorium are needed are to either:

  1. Prevent a shortage or overburdening of public facilities such as sewer, water, roads, schools, public safety.
  2. Because existing plans, ordinances or regulations, if any, are inadequate to prevent serious public harm.

Either of these rationales will suffice, though a municipality should cite both if there is a factual basis for doing so, the MMA information noted.

“Those don’t fit here,” Selectman Chairman Matthew Smith said. “I would be lying if I said that I truly love the way (solar panels) look. I’m an open space guy, a wood cutter.”


Selectmen would have had to call a special town meeting, where voters could decide on enacting a six-month moratorium on solar projects.

“You don’t know the scale of something until you see it,” Selectman Joshua Bell said. He supported the idea of a moratorium to give time to review what’s happened, make zoning decisions on solar projects, and determine what the town wants.

In addition to solar projects at Sandy River Farms and the town’s landfill, two others have been approved but haven’t broken ground yet, Smith said. Adjustments to the Zoning Ordinance would not affect them, he noted.

If he were to buy land and couldn’t farm it, then was offered a chance to lease it for solar, Selectman Michael Fogg said he would accept.

“I’ll get as far away as I can, but I’m going to build the solar farm,” he said. “You’re not happy, but that’s my decision for financial gain.”

One resident spoke of the potential for property devaluation. Another asked that changes be made before the next solar project comes in.


Ordinances will be reviewed this winter, Smith said.

The public is encouraged to work with the boards to ensure wanted changes are included, Town Manager Christian Waller said.

The Planning Board will consider the Clearwater solar application when it meets Monday at 6 p.m.

If issues remain, the selectmen could revisit the moratorium, Smith said.

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