LOVELL — A large turnout is expected Saturday for a special town meeting to vote on a proposed solar ordinance.

The meeting will be held at the Lovell Fire Station at 3 Hatch Hill Road starting a 9 a.m. Saturday.

The proposed ordinance would replace the 180-day moratorium for all solar projects that was overwhelmingly adopted 243-50 at an earlier special town meeting on Jan. 25. The issue attracted nearly 300 residents to the January meeting in this Oxford County town with 1,104 residents, according to the 2020 census.

A citizen group, which calls itself Our Eden Association, formed after a 181-acre industrial solar project was proposed late last year near Christian Hill Road and Shave Hill Road by Walden Solar Maine, a subsidiary of Walden Renewables of New York and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. According to the citizen group, more than 10,000 mature trees would be cut down and the project would intrude on the Kezar Lake watershed.

Most residents thought the project was simply too big for their idyllic community, would affect Lovell’s quality of life and would disrupt the stellar scenery residents and visitors enjoy of the surrounding hills, mountains and lakes.

The moratorium, backed by the Eden group, gave town residents the time necessary to research and craft an ordinance that addressed how solar can effectively be used in the small town.

The ordinance is not anti-solar, says group spokesman Chris O’Neil. The proposal allows for minor and major personal scale solar energy systems.

Minor allows up to 1,200 square feet of solar panels, which the group says is more than enough to power the average Maine home. Major is defined by having a total panel area of half an acre, which is sufficient to power business and municipal uses. Both can be either roof mounted or ground mounted. No special and expensive permitting process is required for installation, only a standard building permit.

The ordinance would allow for a large-scale solar project, but only on land up to 10 acres, and is restricted to the town’s Commercial Industrial Zone, far from the proposed site near Christian Hill Road and Shave Hill Road, and much smaller than the 181-acre project sought by Walden.

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