Shrewsbury – Approximately 350 residents braved wind, rain, and fallen branches to attend the Shrewsbury Special Town Meeting Oct. 30.
A discussion was held regarding an article which asked residents to approve amending an existing waste and landfill operation agreement with Wheelabrator Millbury, Inc. (WMI). The article requested allowing the construction of a solar energy facility at the landfill located at 620 Hartford Turnpike as well as petitioning the Board of Appeals to issue a special permit for the facility.
Town Manager Daniel Morgado explained that WMI had come to the town with a proposal to build this facility atop the closed solid waste landfill at the site. The first step is creating an agreement with the town and with Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations (SELCO), the proposed builder and operator (http://www.shrewsbury-ma.gov/selco/). Morgado explained that while the project would bring to the town only a modest return of approx. $100,000 per year in revenue and taxes, he asked for the article to be approved, as did the Finance Committee.
Elliott Scott, Precinct 9, then rose to ask where precisely on the landfill would this project be built. He noted that he could see the landfill now from his front porch and didn's want to see a “sea of solar panels.”
Morgado showed an illustration of where the panels would be located and said that they should not be readily visible from Scott's property. The illustration showed a fifteen-foot set-back of the panels from the landfill property boundary. Morgado noted that the visibility of the panels should be no more intrusive than those at the Route 20 solar farm and that screening plants are already being planted.
Melisa Hollenback, Precinct 5, voiced her concern about rain runoff after seeing some road flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Morgado assured her that her fears were unfounded since WMI needed to be a “good neighbor.” He also noted that the town would likely receive financial benefits for creating a new “green energy” project.
After a lengthy discussion, the article was passed unanimously.
Article One, asked for approval of a 25-year lease for two dollars a year for 25 years on certain parcels of land on Lake Street, adjacent to the Glavin Regional Center, was approved unanimously. Also approved unanimously was an article reducing by $53,000 an appropriation previously approved for an interest-only payment on a Sherwood Middle School project that was not needed because the loan was never taken out.