City Council Considers Regulating Solar Power Installations

(File photograph.)

Haverhill Planning and Economic Development Director William Pillsbury Jr.

Haverhill Planning and Economic Development Director William Pillsbury Jr.

A proposed city ordinance amendment, creating a formal review process for new solar energy installations, is the subject of a public hearing by the council tonight.

Councilors will consider adding language to an existing ordinance, allowing it to “regulate and restrict” the installation of new “large scale, ground mounted” and “roof mounted” solar energy systems. Projects are subject to standards for “placement, design, construction, operation, monitoring, modification and removal,” while addressing public safety, environmental impact and “provide adequate financial assurance for the eventual decommissioning of such installations.” Plans for solar projects have been previously processed through the city’s Board of Appeals, according to Haverhill Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury.

“The proposed ordinance prohibits ground mounted solar energy systems in all commercial, industrial/business park and waterfront zones. The ordinance allows roof mounted systems in these zones by site plan approval,” Pillsbury wrote to councilors. “Any large scale ground mounted system in a zone not prohibited or in a residential zone requires a special permit process detailed in the ordinance. The special permit granting authority is the city council. Any project receiving a special permit shall then file for site plan approval.”

Under the amendment, “large scale ground mounted solar energy” installations are defined as those with capacity greater than 250 kilowatts electricity and occupying more than five acres of land. However, Pillsbury told the Haverhill Planning Board during its Sept. 12 hearing he would make a favorable recommendation to the council on the condition councilors, during tonight’s hearing, further amend the land threshold to three acres instead of five.

“This ordinance limits ground mounted solar installations regardless of size in the following zones: commercial, industrial and waterfront. The city is supportive of solar. We will just have a formal procedure to allow it. One of the hopes in the Industrial and waterfront zones will be an emphasis on roof-mounted systems,” Pillsbury is quoted in planning board hearing minutes. No objections to the amendment were raised in reviews by city departments, Pillsbury added. The planning board voted 9 to 0 in support of Pillsbury’s recommendation.

Also, Councilors Colin F. LePage and Melinda E. Barrett have requested an update on stalled solar projects at Haverhill High School and the former Bradford landfill.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

5 thoughts on “City Council Considers Regulating Solar Power Installations

  1. this has been driven by councilor colin le page…it is a dumb idea…just like the proposal by lepage and 7 amarian,s company to put that solar crap on Haverhill high school…and push aside student safety…..thank you school committee for saying no.

    • The fools are in the process of putting out to bid putting solar panels on Tilton School.
      The building is so old it looks like it’s about to fall down now. Have you heard anything about them doing an engineering study to make sure it can support the weight of a project like this?

  2. tthis iis a he mistake plus its illegal.. city does not have jurisdiction. ryan got canned because of this ccan any pbliic official who spports it

  3. What business is it of the cities if I have 5 or more acres of my property with solar panels. It is called private property which I pay taxes on.
    The city should worry about the public property as it is obvious that needs more attention than my property.
    Who is the city i.e. The mayor puppet known as pills yet to decide and recommend what is on my property.
    Better yet lets forgo the solar panels and bios more Haverhill “condos” otherwise known as apartments and duplexes.