FARMINGTON — Selectmen voted 3-1 Wednesday, Nov. 3, to not put a moratorium on solar farms.

In favor were Selectmen Michael Fogg, Scott Landry and Matthew Smith. Selectman Joshua Bell was opposed while Selectman Stephan Bunker was absent.

At the Oct. 26 meeting, several landowners addressed the board with their concerns about another solar project being proposed in town. 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, including Adrian Harris and Rob Martin had attended the Oct. 20 Zoning Board meeting to discuss their concerns but that board took no action. The abutters requested that selectmen increase setbacks from 75 to 500 feet. They also suggested the moratorium.

Because concerns had been brought to the Zoning Board before the application was submitted, selectmen approved consulting the town’s attorney about 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 Harris’ residence is now 520 feet and 1,338 feet from Martin’s, he said. The field next to Martin’s will stay a cattle pasture and there will be a substantial wooded buffer, Tate noted.

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

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

  1. To prevent a shortage or overburdening of public facilities such as sewer, water, roads, schools, and 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 as justification for a moratorium 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 6-month moratorium on solar projects. The selectmen could later extend the length of the moratorium without a town vote if more time was needed.

“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 the solar projects at Sandy River Farms and the town’s landfill, two other projects have been approved but haven’t broken ground yet, Smith said. Adjustments to the Zoning Ordinance would not affect those projects, Town Manager Christian Waller noted.

If he were to buy land and couldn’t farm it, was then 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. 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.

Zoning and other ordinances will be reviewed this winter, Smith said.

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

The Planning Board was to consider the Clearwater solar application when it met Monday.

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

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