OTISFIELD — More than 45 residents turned out for Otisfield’s Feb. 24 special town meeting to vote on a temporary moratorium of commercial solar facilities.

Selectmen advised those in attendance that Otisfield’s planning board is in the process of developing a permanent ordinance, which will go before voters on June 25 at annual town meeting.

Otisfield residents overwhelmingly approved a temporary moratorium for commercial solar development. A permanent ordinance will be ready for vote at the annual town meeting in June. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Otisfield currently has no commercial solar ordinance in place. One solar farm, located at Nutting Ridge on Route 121, was approved by the planning board just over a year ago. With another developer also expressing interest in Otisfield, town officials deemed it necessary to put a temporary moratorium in place. The moratorium draft was approved at a public hearing on Feb. 17.

The moratorium defines a commercial solar facility as one generating electricity on a site larger than one-quarter of an acre, or 1,100 square feet. During the approximate six month period before annual town meeting, it includes a ban on any residential or personal solar project that exceeds the size limit. However, once a permanent ordinance is in place larger residential solar systems and commercial solar projects will go through separate review processes.

One resident questioned why wind power projects are not included in the moratorium. Select Chairman Hal Ferguson replied that it will require a separate ordinance that town planners will take up once the permanent solar regulations are approved and in place.

Only one resident voted against the temporary moratorium.

Otisfield officials are working with representatives of Maine Municipal Association and the Androscoggin Valley Counsel of Governments to develop the ordinance. Residents will be able to follow its progress by attending planning board meetings and a public hearing, which will be scheduled at a later date.

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