ELLSWORTH — A solar facility off Bucksport Road and an apartment building on Pine Street received unanimous Planning Board approval for their preliminary applications on Aug. 5. The vote means only that board members found the applications to be complete, with the vote for project approval held at a final application review.
The Ellsworth ME Solar project, proposed by Delaware-based company Ameresco, would install a 4.9-megawatt, 17,000-panel array with an entrance at 889 Bucksport Road. Landscaping and vegetation are planned to shield the array from neighbors on Catherine Avenue. The 17-acre array would be set on a 48-acre parcel leased to Ellsworth ME Solar by Sharon and Daniel Awalt.
The panels are nontoxic and sealed, said Sean Hale, of VHB’s South Portland office, which is representing the project. “They literally could just be landfilled, if they needed to be.”
The Pine Street apartment building is proposed by local developer Jonathan Bates, and would be a three-story, 12-unit building with parking and an entrance on a contiguous Spruce Street lot. Bates met with neighbors and community members concerned on the aesthetic fit of the building in the neighborhood and Ellsworth, in general.
“It’s not required, but it’s the right thing to do,” Bates said. “I think everyone left pretty happy.”
Board member Rick Lyles pointed out that the city zoning ordinance does not contain design standards.
“If we want to have some of that, that has to be written extremely carefully into the ongoing ordinance-to-do list,” he said.
Bates also said he had no plans to turn the unit into Airbnb rentals. “Legally, I could. It’s not something I’m interested in.”
Both projects will next appear before the Planning Board for final project approvals.