Monson Selectmen: Going Solar Isn't Green If You Cut Down Tons of Trees
- Townspeople of Monson, MA, USA
- United States of America
Residents of Monson:
The town just received correspondence that Wilbraham Road is AGAIN in the process of coming out of 61A Forestry to prepare for a 2-megawatt commercial farm.
Watch the 9/26/17 Selectmen mtg, starting at 1:14:18 via the MPACT link above. My father and I both speak at the end.
I know this whole solar topic is confusing. It's been a rollercoaster for us all. Here's what's been going on:
Since January 2017, these 22.6 acres have been under a very choppy process of land-use conversion. Steps were initiated to remove this land from the state's 61A Forestry program to prepare for solar construction. Then in April, while Selectmen were originally considering whether to purchase the land (and land appraisals were being conducted), the land was withdrawn from that process, keeping it under 61A Forestry. In July, the landowners submitted a forest cutting plan to the state for the objective of "long-term forest management", and substantial timber harvesting took place in August. This month, steps have been taken in an effort to again remove this land from the state's 61A Forestry program in preparation for construction of commercial solar.
In short, the future of this solar project soon lies in the hands of our Selectmen. They must decide:
- To exercise the town's first right to purchase the land and keep it under continued 61 protection status (no solar farm),
- To waive the town's right to buy the land and in doing so, officially allow construction of this solar farm to begin.
We continue to say: Going solar isn't green if you cut down tons of trees. This project just does not make environmental sense.
OUR COLLECTIVE STRENGTH is in YOUR SINGLE VOICE. Please SIGN this electronic petition and SHARE it/TAG others who live in Monson.
Even if you signed the original paper petition from earlier this year, please DO sign this one as well. It's new. Also, each person should sign individually--every head counts!
From the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.
Jessica Lee Allen
Monson Board of Selectmen:
We, the undersigned residents of Monson, MA, understand the Town has the ability to exercise its first right to purchase 22.6 acres of 61A forest land that is slated to be clear-cut and used for a 2-megawatt commercial solar project on Wilbraham Road, a rural residential zone. We, the undersigned, respectfully request that that the town exercises its right to purchase as to keep the parcel in its current Chapter 61/agricultural/forested/open status.
Green energy ideas should preserve the environment. Pulling a 61A-protected forest out of Chapter to clear-cut the trees and make room for solar panels does not make environmental sense. And Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) agrees, stating that when it comes to solar siting:
"DOER strongly discourages locations that result in significant loss of land and natural resources, including farm and forest land, and encourages rooftop siting, as well as locations in industrial and commercial districts, or on vacant, undisturbed land."
This is why, in 2016, over 200 townspeople signed a citizen-initiated petition to move forward a bylaw that restricts large solar farms to industrial and commercial districts. At an unusually highly attended August Special Town Meeting, we voted this bylaw in by an overwhelming 181 to 30 vote.
You are in receipt of a 4/18/2017 letter from Ed Hood, Executive Director of Opacum Land Trust, in which he considers this parcel—that contains two bodies of wetlands and a vernal pool—to be of "high conservation priority". Hood also makes reference to the importance of not only protecting the natural qualities of this parcel, but those adjacent to it.
These 22.6 acres abut an already-existing 21.988 acre forested lot that was gifted to the Town of Monson for conservation by the late Judith Gerrish, who was well-known in the area for land conservation. Abutting the 21.988 acre lot is Echo Hill’s 87 acres of APR land. Directly across the street and abutting the Bailey Family’s 56-acre registered farm is another 10.6 acres of conserved forest that was also gifted for conservation by Gerrish.
In Gerrish’s conveyance of these 30 acres to the Town, she referred to these tracts of land as “Bonnie Biel,” “Place of Beauty” and “Peaceful Place.”
We, too, believe that the Wilbraham Road corridor—a rural residential neighborhood and the main vein for visitors coming into town from Hampden and Wilbraham—should continue to be a preserved space of beauty and peace.
By exercising your first right to purchase this land, the Town of Monson will create a total of over 140 immediate-area acres dedicated to preservation.
Thank you for your continued consideration.
The Undersigned Townspeople of Monson, MA
The Monson Selectmen: Going Solar Isn't Green If You Cut Down Tons of Trees petition to Townspeople of Monson, MA, USA was written by Jessica Allen and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.