ELLSWORTH — A proposed solar farm off Gilpatrick Road received preliminary plan approval on Jan. 7 from a Planning Board that is becoming well-versed in such applications, having ushered three separate solar projects through the planning board process. The Gilpatrick Solar Project was first discussed at a Dec. 2 meeting.
Proposed is a 3.5-megawatt, ground-mounted array on 19.81 acres of a 127-acre parcel that would connect to three-phase utility power lines on Gilpatrick Road. Access roads will be built leading to the site, and a performance bond of $105,350 will cover the full costs of decommissioning the project.
Like the Ellsworth Solar LLC plan approved at the December meeting, the current application was submitted on behalf of an out-of-state company, Aypa. Boyle Associates of Portland, an environmental consulting firm, is handling the application process on the local end.
Chris Byers of Boyle Associates said minor changes to the plan have been made since December, such as increasing the turning space for large vehicles at Fire and Life Safety Inspector/Plans Examiner Michael Hangge’s request.
“That looks very appropriate to us,” Hangge said.
The Maine Historic Preservation Commission is also involved.
“We’ve been going back and forth with [them],” Byers said. “They had some questions for us.” But nothing raised issues with any historical preservation impact, he added, and the board will receive a copy of the commission’s final approval.
The Army Corps of Engineers has already approved a small wetlands crossing and a Department of Environmental Protection stormwater permit application has been accepted as complete.
The site area will be cleared of trees and a meadow planted, which will “attenuate stormwater the same as forest,” Byers said.
Board member Molly Friedland asked what would happen if the meadow planting fails. Boyle said it would be replanted.
In other business, the board gave final approval to an amendment to the already approved Fox Run Subdivision that adds one lot for a total of five lots, and preliminary plan approval to a major subdivision, Patrick’s Way, that would create two new residential rental units on 15.2 acres. Both votes were unanimous.
Planning Board members also unanimously — and with great appreciation — approved a motion from Chairman John Fink “thanking Mike [Hangge] for the years he spent with us and the assistance he’s given us.” Hangge is retiring this month.