OTISFIELD — Voters in Otisfield overwhelmingly approved a solar ordinance during a special town meeting last Thursday. Thirty-nine people voted in favor of the ordinance and two against.

The ordinance took effect immediately, marking the end of a solar development moratorium approved by residents during a special town meeting last February.

Currently, there is one commercial solar farm operating in Otisfield, a 20-acre array at Nutting Ridge Community Solar on Powhatan Road. With no ordinance in place when development began back in 2020, the project was approved to state and federal standards and the town’s site plan ordinance in early 2021.

When a second developer expressed an interest in establishing another solar farm, town officials recommended that residents pass the temporary moratorium to stop any future project until the planning board could write an ordinance that would would give Otisfield local control over the application process.

The six-month moratorium was passed at a special town meeting last year in February. It was extended several times during the year as the planning board reviewed ordinances put in place by other Maine communities and utilized services from the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments to draft its own. The scope of work necessary resulted in the board meeting on a weekly basis for months starting last fall.

Residents were able to comment and ask questions about the ordinance during a Jan. 19 public hearing.


Many felt the ordinance, which limits total future development in Otisfield to 100 acres and individual solar arrays to 20 acres each. The Nutting Ridge solar farm is 20 acres but also grandfathered and exempt from the the ordinance.

Another issue people had with the ordinance was limiting language on residential solar arrays, specifying only particular materials are allowed, that multi-unit homes were excluded and that there were no provisions for homeowners to adopt solar if their lot sizes did not conform. One resident who uses solar power from an array he erected on a different site than his house pointed out that many homeowners, especially those with lakefront, would not be able to use the same measures he had for alternative energy.

During the hearing and the special town meeting officials acknowledged that the ordinance would go under review fairly quickly and revised in the future as necessary.

“Both [select and planning] boards have agreed on the need for revisions and amendments, to reflect our experiences applying the new ordinance, voter’s input, State laws, and technology updates/changes,” Selectman Rick Micklon told the Advertiser Democrat in an email statement last week. “We don’t know how this ordinance will be received by future applicants. Regardless, let’s let that play out for a year and revisit the issues then.”

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