From the Norwich Bulletin

January 26, 2017

By

BROOKLYN – Representatives from Ranger Solar reassured Brooklyn residents of the positives of its proposed 544-acre solar farm at a forum attended by about 50 people Thursday evening at Brooklyn Middle School.

Meader said the problem is the land in question should be used for farming and she is concerned that farmers are losing their land.

“I would rather pay more for energy and have food to eat,” Meader said.

The project, which would span across 544 acres and be active anywhere from 20 years to 35 years – if permitted by the state – would be one of New England’s largest renewable energy projects, according to Ranger Solar officials.

Ranger Solar won a bid to provide solar energy as part of a three-state effort to reduce the regions reliance on natural gas infrastructure and improve the reliability and affordability of New Englands electric system.

There are about 50 abutters to the property and several attended the forum.

Keith Zuidema lives on Christian Hill Road and said an eastern edge of the project will end at his backyard.

He and fellow Christian Hill Road resident Mike Zurowksi said they were concerned about traffic and noise during the construction period.

Aaron Svedlow, vice president of permitting for Ranger Solar, said the project is anticipated to be built during construction season from May to October, and traffic would be highest during delivery of the panels, which would take one to two months.

“The state does not have a process that is necessarily inclusive of the towns,” Svedlow said. “That’s why we wanted to be here and make sure we heard from the selectboard and the community.”

Ranger will also make a presentation at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 in Canterbury. The location has not been determined.

CJ Walsh, a project manager with Ranger Solar, said 65 percent of the project is in Brooklyn and 35 percent in Canterbury. Of the 544 acres, about half will have solar panels. There are also several areas within the boundaries that are off-limits for panels, Svedlow said. Some include wetlands, historically significant areas and potential archaeological sites.

The former Rawson Materials gravel operation is also off-limits and Svedlow said Ranger Solar has no say over what happens on that land. The land immediately surrounding the gravel pit, however, is being leased by River Junction Estates, which is also an arm of Rawson Materials, to Ranger.

Paul Harris, Ranger Solars senior vice president and co-founder, said the property Ranger hopes to use was planned to become a 160-lot residential subdivision and golf course. Svedlow said by turning it into a solar farm the property will be returned to open space at the end of the project.

Harris said on the south side of the project next to Wauregan Road in Canterbury there is a large wetland area where there will be no panels.

The panels, Svedlow said, will be put in the ground using steel posts similar to the vertical posts along highways. Svedlow said everything is done to minimize any potential impact on soil and groundwater.

First Selectman Rick Ives said the turnout was greater than expected, and Canterbury First Selectman Roy Piper also attended to gauge both the turnout and the kinds of questions that might be asked. Piper said so far he has heard positive feedback from residents who are glad the project will limit gravel operations in the Wauregan Road area.