WESTERLY —Planning Board members this week unanimously endorsed the construction of an 18-acre solar field at 271 Church St., a former quarry site in Bradford. The land is designated as part of an aquifer protection overlay district and still requires an aquifer protection permit, among other permits.
In seeking master plan approval, the attorney Thomas Liguori represented the property owner, Westerly Granite, and Kearsarge Energy, which plans to construct two solar arrays on the property.
Andrew Bernstein, Kearsarge managing director, described the site as a former gravel pit and said the solar array would generate about 4 megawatts of power to be sold to municipal partners in surrounding towns and school districts. The ground-mounted panels would measure 77 by 39 inches.
Board member Jason Parker said he was concerned about buffering the project from two neighborhoods surrounding the site.
“A little screening would help keep it from being visible,” he said. Parker also said he had concerns with keeping access to the area restricted to the main entrance.
“It seems to me, once the arrays area installed, the vehicles that serve it are nothing more than pickup trucks,” Liguori said. “You start legislating way more than necessary.”
Bernstein noted that solar fields are “going up throughout the area and in many different states.”
“This is land that couldn’t be used for anything else,” Bernstein said. He noted that the company looks for unusable sites such as brownfields and quarries.