Planning Board Workshop Meeting Minutes – 7/23/18

Present: Jeffrey Miller Chair), Robert Miller (Vice-Chair), James Aldrich, (Secretary),  Dennis Marcom, Jason Perron, Jeff White, Jeff Colley. From the ZBA: Myra Mansouri and Pauline Barnes.

Recording: Marilou Blaine. These minutes are unapproved and will be reviewed at the August 2018 meeting for corrections, additions and/or omissions. The meeting came to order at 7 pm.

Members of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment received copies of the solar ordinance for the town of Hollis and the NHSEA Model Solar Zoning Ordinance. The Boards are considering a solar ordinance but are in the process of coming up with one to be put on the 2020 March ballot. So lots of ideas were thrown out at the meeting.

Mr. Miller said he thought a major concern is more about the large scale use of solar panels – ones that fill up to an acre of property.

Ms. Mansouri read from the NHSEA model.

“Most existing solar panels average about 300 watts per panel and are an average 3.1 x 5.4 feet in dimension.

“Using these averages a 6 kW array would consist of 20 panels and have dimensions of 26.5 x 14 or approximately 350 square feet (An average parking space is 180 sq. ft.)”

Some houses might require twice as much as this, Mr. R. Miller said. Should the Board should consider the amount of consumption of electricity a home uses? Larger homes would probably require more electricity than smaller home and thus require more panels.

Mr. Colley said he read an article that people in California were putting solar panels on the face of their houses and abutters had to look at that. Abutters views are important, as is the serenity of abutters.

So disturbing both views and abutters are an important concern.

Another concern would be if you could see an array of panels from the road. Keep it in the back out of sight. Aesthetics is important.

People who install solar panels on the ground have to follow current ordinances, for example, setback regulations.

Should a Special Exception be required if the criteria were changed?

Mr. Perron suggested looking instead at the Conditional Use Permit as suggested by the NHSEA model.

Should the conditions vary by zoning districts?

When it comes to a large display of panels, everyone is an abutter, Ms. Barnes said. In a large display there’s winking and glowing stifling many people’s view.

Mr. Perron said there are panels that are less reflective.

Mr. White said some are available now with a coating to cut down on reflection.

Mr. J. Miller said even the character or site of the land can be so different. For example, hilly vs. flat. This should be considered. Should the ordinance be tailored to each lot?

Ms. Mansouri brought up wind turbines. She said the sound of turbines can harm a person’s hearing. The places most likely for wind turbines would possibly be Derry Hill or Carpenter Hill. Those are in the timberland districts.

Towards the end of the meeting Mr. Perron suggested going through both the NHSEA model and the Hollis ordinance choosing the items they thought would be best for Walpole. The Boards will do this page by page at the next workshop in August.

Mr. Baldric adjourned the meeting.

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