Blue Hill to present solar farm moratorium to voters

BLUE HILL — The town of Blue Hill intends to present voters with a solar farm moratorium at a special town meeting on a date yet to be determined, according to town officials. 

Blue Hill has received one application from Borrego Solar, doing business as Blue Hill Solar, which proposes a solar farm on the York Road in East Blue Hill, said Code Enforcement Officer Judy Jenkins. The Planning Board Nov. 9 found the application incomplete.

Jenkins said the selectmen have reviewed a first draft of the proposed solar moratorium and are awaiting revisions. Drummond Woodsum attorneys at law is doing the work.

Selectman Vaughn Leach said a moratorium would give the town time to address solar developments in Blue Hill’s land use ordinance, which the ordinance currently does not. 

Leach said the board would like to hold a special town meeting this winter and not wait until the annual Town Meeting in April to decide on a moratorium. 

Town Administrator Shawna Ambrose said she is working with the Maine Municipal Association to determine what Blue Hill can do to hold a town meeting with the gathering restrictions currently in place.

The proposed moratorium has a retroactive date of Dec. 17, Ambrose said.

“The application we have received has been reviewed and was deemed incomplete; therefore, it falls within the moratorium limits, if the moratorium is passed,” Ambrose said.

There are a number of issues that prompted the Planning Board to find the application incomplete, according to a copy of the meeting minutes.

Permits are needed from the Maine Forest Service for proposed clear-cutting of 20 acres. 

A “visual impact analysis from the water” must be provided.

The board requires that vernal pools and wetland be delineated on the project map as well as showing the actual tree clearing that will occur.

The board also needs a hazardous materials plan, a decommissioning plan and a construction schedule.

Then there are housekeeping items, including changing the applicant name to Blue Hill Solar instead of Borrego Solar.

Several residents attended the Nov. 9 Planning Board meeting, which was held virtually using online meeting platform GoToMeeting, and expressed concern about the proposed solar farm.

According to the meeting minutes, Celestia Smithgall of East Blue Hill said she and 11 other property owners “strongly oppose” the project due to the proposed clear cutting of 20 acres of trees. 

Barbara Cannon, a York Road resident, is concerned about the project destroying an eagle habitat, which has just started to come back.

“I don’t think this is the right place,” Cannon said.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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