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Hopkinton embraces solar energy

January 9, 2014

Vincent Naccarato showing Michael Lenihan a map of the zone at the public hearing on Dec. 16. On Monday, the council voted the change re-zone the lot from residential to commercial to allow Megawatt to build a solar energy farm.

HOPKINTON - Megawatt Solar Energy, Inc., a Pawtucket-based company, has worked with homeowners and commercial property owners in Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. On Monday, the Hopkinton Town Council reworked their town ordinances to make sure the company would begin an operation in the town.

In a three-part motion made and approved unanimously by the council, the town decided to embrace photovoltaic solar energy production by adding it to the district use table, changing the zoning of 45 Bank Street from residential to commercial, and changing the designation of the lot in the Community Plan Future Land Use Map to allow for Megawatt’s proposed solar energy project heard publicly on Dec. 16.

The changes were not made to allow for solar energy in general in the town, but were specifically designed to accommodate the Megawatt project - even to the point of reverting back if Megawatt does not stick around.

“I would like to add a condition to making the change to commercial,” said Councilperson Barbara Capalbo. “In the event that the applicant’s project is not completed in the time line provided by National Grid, the designation will revert back to (residential).”

The full motion included other conditions that were discussed at the original hearing, including keeping the electrical lines underground, enclosing a six-foot fence and making sure the lights fall within Hopkinton town ordinance and dark sky laws.

“When we had a hearing, no property owner spoke against it,” said Vice President Sylvia Thompson. “This is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I can’t imagine any other use for (the property). I wish them all good luck.”

Luck may come into play for Megawatt Solar, Inc., as the National Grid deadlines that they have to meet are strict and require the company to finish construction of the $1 million project by November.
By the end of the meeting, the lot known as 45 Bank Street was re-zoned from commercial to residential and Megawatt was given the go-ahead to go before the planning board one last time before officially beginning construction.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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