Franklin to consider solar ordinance revisions

FRANKLIN — A special town meeting will be held June 28 for voters to weigh in on the Planning Board’s proposed revisions to the town’s solar ordinance. The meeting will follow the Board of Selectmen’s regular 6 p.m. meeting. 

The changes, which were drafted following a May 27 public hearing, include adding the definitions for commercial and residential properties and a proposed fee increase for those applying for special exception permits. 

According to the ordinance, “A special exception is a use that would not be appropriate without restriction but which, if controlled under the provisions of this Ordinance, would promote the purpose of this Ordinance.” 

Planning Board Chairman Brian Abbott said the current fee is set at $100, and the proposal is to increase the fee to $250, which would match the fee for those filling out applications to build subdivisions. The fees help cover costs of holding the necessary board meetings, he said.

The third change is that the Planning Board unanimously decided to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that the ordinance’s section on solar fees not pass.

Abbott said the Planning Board wants to wait while fee structures are finalized at the state level, before setting one locally. 

“We’ve run into some complications,” he said. 

Solar projects that have already been approved will continue to follow the current structure in place, where projects are charged 5 cents per square foot, which is applied to the vertical footprint of solar panels.

Abbott explained that with the Planning Board’s recommendation, only a simple majority is needed from voters for the revisions to pass. Without, it will need a two-thirds majority.

According to the town office’s Facebook page, the warrant with the revisions will be posted after June 15 at the town office, post office and Franklin Trading Post. 

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]