Agawam City Council debates over solar farm proposal

The City Council said this is not a done deal

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Eversource Energy wants to build two solar farms in Agawam. Monday night, the City Council addressed what it calls a “grey area” determining where these solar farms can and can’t go.

Currently in Agawam, the City Council President told 22News there are no town ordinances or bylaws that address not only the zoning requirements for solar farms, but other issues such as the size.

Carl Binette of Agawam said, “In essence you have people that are living there. We want an ordinance that’s going to protect all Agawam citizens, not just our neighborhood.” Eversource Energy Company wants to build two solar farms, one of them on South West Street, across from Carl’s home.

His neighbor, Aline Stolar, sent us a photo of the view from her window. She said she doesn’t think Eversource, or any company, should be able to place panels in a residential area. “We’re not against solar. It’s just beautiful farm land. We just don’t want to see Agawam or other towns being chewed up.”

Eversource Spokesperson Priscilla Ress told 22News, “The projects have gone through an exhaustive vetting process, including review and comments by city staff, board and council members, neighbors, farmers, engineers, attorneys and others. The unanimous approvals of both projects by the Planning Board provide a clear signal that the projects’ design, layout, screening and setbacks are reasonable. With respect to the solar ordinance that’s pending before the City Council, we remain committed to working closely with the city.”

City Councilors are reviewing a sample ordinance drafted by a local law firm, which would prohibit solar farms from being built in any residential, agricultural or business zone. According to Eversource, the city’s Planning Department already approved both their projects, on South Westfield and South West Streets, but if the council approves the ordinance, that could impact their plans.

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