Haverhill City Councilors to Hear Proposed Changes to Siting Residential Solar Panels

Access to a proposed solar array would have been at 1037 Broadway. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

Haverhill city councilors are expected to move a bit closer tonight to keeping residential solar panels from blighting neighborhoods.

Councilor William J. Macek, who successfully fought last year for a moratorium on such ground-based solar farms, is asking the Council’s Administration and Finance Committee to tighten rules on visibility, access and property setbacks. Referring to last year’s proposal for a 250-kilowatt AC array off upper Broadway, Macek said he wants neighbors protected.

“It was right in their back yards. It would have been a terrible thing to look at,” Macek said. He explained that during a site visit to 1037 Broadway, he saw initial engineering stakes placed “much too close to high-end, newly constructed homes.”

After the project by Hexagon Energy of Charlottesville, Va., was killed on a legal technicality, Macek asked for firmer regulations. A new zoning article would better address such issues as panel setbacks away from streets, use of vegetation and fencing to diminish “commercial impacts” and access roads that could accommodate fire trucks.

After Hexagon Energy proposed a project that would generate enough electricity to power 40 homes, City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. ruled the proposal didn’t meet city requirements for ground-mounted solar generation.

The city went on to retain consulting attorney Mark Bobrowski of Concord to study problems and propose solutions. Bobrowski’s draft, which also better defines wattages, will be debated before a recommendation is made to the full City Council.

The Administration and Finance Committee, led by Councilor Colin F. LePage, meets at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in the Council office, room 204, in Haverhill City Hall. Members will also discuss possible advertising restrictions on adult-use marijuana and what zoning rules should apply to vaping shops.

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