Planning Commission preview: 23-acre solar array, the health center and more LURs

Tonight’s Oct. 15 Planning Commission meeting includes some major town planning issues, including continued public discussion of the draft Land Use Regulations, including more talk about the East Charlotte Village Commercial District, a sketch plan review of the Charlotte Family Health Center project in the works for Ferry Road in the West Village, and a 23-acre solar array project that is proposed at 2257 Lake Road, which is owned by Michael and Margaret Russell.

In a Tuesday email to members of the Charlotte Conservation Commission, the Energy Committee and the Trails Committee, Town Planner Larry Lewack said that the proposed solar array, called the Pringle Solar Project, falls under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Public Utilities Commission because it’s a utility-scale project, and therefore is not subject to town oversight.

In a Sept. 24 email to town administrators and board and commission members, Town Administrator Dean Bloch wrote, “The project is exempt from town permitting, but the Planning Commission and Selectboard have a statutory right to submit comments in conjunction with this notice.”

He noted that potential areas of concern he identified after a “very cursory review” were the fact that there is an unnamed road on the property that will need to be named for E-911 purposes, that there is a trail easement on the property though the town trail does not exist in that area yet, and that “While some of the power serving the facility is proposed to be underground, the section closer to Lake Road is proposed to be overhead. This conflicts with the Land Use Regulations.”

Any boards and commissions who wish to comment on the project will do so on Thursday night.

The Pringle Solar Project will encompass 23 acres of a 108-acre land parcel that is zoned as a rural property. According to an email from Morgan Kerns, the lead project manager from DG Vermont Solar, “The Project will include approximately 10,080 non-reflective solar PV panels installed in linear arrays and will utilize 28 string inverters.” Kerns anticipates the project will take one month to complete. The email also said that an aesthetics assessment was performed and that “the Project will not result in undue adverse impacts to the aesthetics, scenic, and natural beauty of the area,” that it complies with all open space and scenic requirements, and that it does not affect any rare, endangered or threatened wildlife.

Lewack said the Planning Commission welcomes input from interested parties and wrote, “Because Charlotte has a regionally approved town energy plan, our views and recommendations on utility-scale projects such as this must be taken into consideration by the PUC in their project reviews.”

The link to the Zoom meeting on Thursday night is on the town web site.