Solar energy-related matters going before the Haverhill City Council Tuesday include a proposed 25-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement for a private solar energy array to be built outside Ayers Village, as approved a year ago by the Haverhill Board of Appeals.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini and City Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco recommend approval of a PILOT agreement reached with Clean Energy Collective Solar, Worcester, for a 1.38 megawatt ground-mounted solar array to be erected on 9.4 acres of leased land at 1305 Broadway, on the southern edge of the Ayers Village neighborhood. During a public hearing Nov. 18, 2015, the Board of Appeals approved requests from Clean Energy and landowner Janet Donovan for a lot variance and a special permit allowing a private solar array within a rural residential (RR) zone. The city, beginning the first year of operation, would receive, in quarterly installments, $24,697 in annual payments. With increases by 2.5 percent every five years, payments would reach $27,239 in years 21 to 25. The board, in its written decision, cited project benefits including no traffic, noise, health risk or fire danger.
“It offers a low visual presence, with panels that will be no more than eight feet from the ground. The applicant will erect an eight-foot fence around the entire perimeter of the site,” a board statement reads. “The company notified all of the abutters and held an informational Q and A (question and answer) with all of the neighbors. The site will be accessed by an existing driveway with some minor improvements. The company will create two retention ponds to collect any water runoff from the site, with the water slowly released into the wetlands.”
As a condition to the special permit, Clean Energy created a decommission plan.
“The applicant has placed $39,200 in an escrow account for this purpose. The solar farm will have less of an impact than a residential development on the site,” the board added.
In other council matters, a proposed ordinance amendment, aimed at preventing the city from charging building construction permit fees on city-owned projects, will be placed on file for two weeks. As WHAV reported early this month, the council’s Administration and Finance Committee recommended to ban such fees after revelations in August the city charged the new Hunking School building project $300,000 in building permit fees. They will be paid by taxpayers with interest over 20 years outside of limits set by the tax-limiting law, Proposition 2 ½.
Also, Fiorentini is asking the council to authorize the sale of the Riverfront Promenade parking lot parcel on Merrimack Street, for $701,000, to Lupoli Companies of Lawrence for proposed redevelopment of a new mid-rise commercial building, as reported last month by WHAV. The company, operated by Salvatore Lupoli, was the sole respondent to a Request For Proposal issued after the city declared the property surplus last May. The council action was in response to a recommendation by a Merrimack Street Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) study. Lupoli is the founder of Sal’s Pizza and has redeveloped the Riverwalk property, Lawrence, among other sites.
The Haverhill City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m., in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.