Cheshire Planning Board
Hearing: Monday, October 23, 2017 7PM
Cheshire Community Center
Present: Donna M. DeFino, Francis M. Griswold, Peter H. Traub, Ronald W. DeAngelis, Nick Graham, and Sandra Sloane
Audience: See sign-in-sheet
Donna opened the monthly meeting of the Cheshire Planning Board. The meeting minutes for September 25 2017 were motioned for approval by Nick; 2nd by Peter. A unanimous vote was taken. Due to conflict of interest, Alternate Sandra Sloane replaced Mr. Griswold.
Donna welcomed all to the meeting and read the original Legal Notice for August 28, 2017.
Dean Smith of Borrego Solar submitted packets to all Cheshire Planning Board members. The packets included 12 questions that had been asked at the August 28th meeting by board members. Mr. Smith reviewed each questions. He noted another Borrego project could be seen on West Shaft Road in North Adams, MA and on Main Street in Gill, MA. He reviewed the 5 finds of the bylaws that can be met. The title review was proven to be expired. There would be very little traffic noise when in operation. Mowing would only take place twice a year. The project would not drain on a public facility and there were no drainage issues. They would be planting clumping grass which is beneficial to small animals and for filtration of surface water. There would be a seven (7) foot fence with no barb wire. Green or black vinyl was acceptable.
* The glare study was reviewed by a consultant for airports FAA and is very experienced in the field. There would be certain times of the year/sunset where there would be minimal glare.
* Dean Smith felt there was no directly related documentation to say if a solar project was built that the surrounding homes would decrease in value or in fact, increase.
* He cited no correlation between wind energy and solar. Solar is less intent while noise issues have been documented.
* MSDS. When broken there is no real noxious chemicals. Should rain waters get in the module and rust the metals, they would be replaced very quickly as not doing so would decrease productivity.
* EMF levels when in operation would be very low.
* If the facility is not working for twelve months, the Cheshire Planning Board would have the right to decommission. To have the pads removed would involve time and labor.
Comments from the audience:
Kathryn Winiarski, 1285 Wells Road:
* Concerned about the placement of evergreens surrounding the fence.
- The trees would be placed ten feet apart and would be six feet to eight feet tall. In five years the evergreens would be full grown. There is no grading at the site. Mr. Smith noted that if you drain off too much, there might be a problem thus the idea of planting grass.
- Mr. Smith: The panels will not corrode.
- No issue regarding radiation. See report.
- Silicon dust? Is silicon dust harmful to one’s health? If one is damaged is there a hazard or potential for the break to get into the soil which could go to the wells and can it come in into the house?
Answer: Mr. Smith said he would have to check further. He felt there should be no problem as there are no chemicals. They only use clean water for cleaning them.
* Lake Effect? Mr. Smith, “Not aware.” The company operates 2000 sites and it is not significant enough.
Appraisals: Will there be a reduction in taxes if the solar project devalues their home?
Answer: Donna, “You would have to speak with Cheshire Assessors”.
If in the future wells were damaged, what happens then?
Answer: It would be covered by Borrego. Mr. Smith shared that he knows of no cases like that.
If the Cheshire Planning Board would want to put that as a part of the Special Permit, that would be their decision.
“What kind and size machinery would be used in the installation of the racks?
Mr. Smith reported that smaller heavy duty equipment would be made and would be drilling small holes into the ground. On site work will mostly be by ATV type equipment. Once in place the area would be raked and the soil would be aerated and grass seed planted.
Can I/we bring any water problems to Borrego?
Question: What about the glare to livestock?
Answer: There is a short period of time in the day where it might be a concern. On the downhill side it could be fifteen minutes in the evening hours, part of the year.
Ms. Winiarski: noted 10.6,E2 – Public Convenience – not desirable to the public. It would be detrimental to the establishment of the area.
Question: Would like counsel to review the deed expiration.
Donna read a letter from F. Sydney Smithers, Cain Hibbard & Meyers, PC
“September 29, 2017
Re: Land on Harbor Road Extension, Cheshire, Berkshire County, Massachusetts standing in the name of Thomas J. Ayotte and Barbara Ayotte
Dear Planning Board:
You have asked our assistance in reviewing restrictions imposed on land presently owned by Thomas J. Ayotte and Barbara Ayotte to determine whether such restrictions currently encumber their land.
The land in question is the same conveyed to Thomas J. Ayotte and Barbara Ayotte by deed of Henry Kratz dated July 15, 1994 and recorded with Berkshire Northern District Registry of Deeds in Book 886, Page 6. That deed conveys a parcel shown on a plan entitled “Plan of Land Harbor Road Extension, Cheshire, Mass. Prepared for Antonio D. Ayotte” dated October 26, 1977 and recorded with said Registry in Plan Book 240H, Page 111. That parcel contains, according to the plan, 5.0 acres of land.
The second parcel owned by the Ayottes on Harbor Road Extension is the same conveyed to them by deed of Henry Kratz dated August 28, 2001 and recorded with said Registry in Book 1037, Page 1531. That deed refers to a plan entitled “Plan of Land Wells Road-Cheshire, MA Prepared for Antonio D. Ayotte” dated July 27, 1976 and recorded with said Registry in Plan Book 240H, Page 63. That parcel contains, according to the plan, 15 acres of land.
Both deeds contain the following apparent deed restrictions.
“SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING RESTRICTIONS:
“1.The premises shall be used for residential purposes only, and no residence shall be erected thereon at a cost of less than $20,000.
2.There shall not at any time be placed upon the said remises any so-called mobile homes or trailers.”
Those restrictions are unlimited as to time.
In order to determine the present enforceability of these restrictions we must ascertain the date that the restrictions were first imposed on the two lots in question. That determination is required because M.G.L. c. 184 section 23 provides as follows:
Conditions or restrictions, unlimited as to time, by which the title or use of real property is affected, shall be limited to the term of thirty years after the date of the deed or other instrument or the date of the probate of the will creating them, except in cases of gifts or devises for public, charitable or religious purposes. This section shall not apply to conditions or restrictions existing on July sixteenth, eighteen hundred and eighty-seven, to those contained in the deed, grant or gift of the Commonwealth, or to those having the benefit of section thirty-two.
The restrictions imposed on the two parcels of land owned by the Ayotte’s are more recent than July 16, 1887, are not for public, charitable or religious purposes, are not contained in the deed, grant or gift of the Commonwealth, and do not have the benefit of section 32 [of c. 184].
Our title examination has revealed that the restrictions were first imposed on the 15 acre parcel by deed of Antonio D. Ayotte, Trustee of the Elsie L. Realty Company and Elsie L. Ayotte to Marjorie Thiel Kratz dated October 26, 1976 and recorded with said Registry in Book 673, Page 256.
As the restrictions in the deeds date to 1976 and 1977, respectively, both restrictions are in excess of 30 years old. It is therefore our opinion that such restrictions are no longer enforceable and no longer encumber the two parcels of Ayotte land.
Signed: F. Sydney Smithers”
Thomas Spratling: “Mass DEP discourage installation of ground-mounted solar PV systems in wetland areas, including riverfront locations. Solar projects within wetland areas are unlikely to comply with the performance standards in the Wetlands Protection Act regulations.”
- “It will not be in the wetlands there is a one hundred foot buffer. There are no issues.”
- Concerned about his livestock and the differences in the August meeting and tonight regarding the EMS report. The study of glare was taken by an airport specialist – for airports and not this specific site. Mr. Jayko stated he will plant the fastest growing trees. Trees are being cut on the border now.
Mr. Smith answered a question about changing the degrees of the panels and said there would be an impact if that were to be done.
Audience: “Where does the power go?”
Answer: It goes into the grid. What do the residents get out of this? $10 a month? It is just like cell phones. Every six (6) months a new cell phone comes out. What happens with a project like this when new ideas come out?
Mr. Smith: It (electricity) can get sold back to locals – locals could buy the power. Bonds will be in place; there will be a twenty year lease with five (5) year renewals.
- Concerned about property values and values decreasing.
“ Wanted to discuss the evergreens, glare, buffer zone and the need to have native plants.
Will panels create more wind? Where were the panels made?
Mr. Smith: The panels are open underneath and the panels were made in China and are five (5) feet-significantly less than eight (8) feet.
Ms. Chalmers: “As you know, there have been many health issues with other products made in China and shipped and used in the United States. Children’s toys had lead pain.” Mr. Smith: “I am not aware of that but, I will look into it.”
Ms. Chalmers stated that she had attended a recent Cheshire Conservation Commission and it was noted that there are springs on the land. She is very concerned about property values.
Ms. Chalmers final question was, “How do we make our case against the project. The majority of people do not want it. Will the Planning Board take that into consideration?”
The Cheshire Conservation Commission will address water concerns.
- Reminded the board about scenic views. He stated that if this Special Permit is approved, he will be the first one at the court house to appeal the case.
- “Just today there was a beautiful picture of Cheshire in the Berkshire Eagle newspaper. Cheshire is beautiful – that’s why we moved here. A continuous flow next to their property concerns her as the wells could get contaminated.”
- EMF reports have been submitted by the solar company with Clean Energy Center Technical Environmental Inc. completed the report.
- Noted that he and many people believe in renewable energy – on a small scale. He felt the location needed to be reviewed for the impact and repercussions it would have to the area. He understands the advantages and disadvantages to the project and asked the Planning Board to regard the impact.
Donna closed the audience question and answer time. She noted that the Cheshire Conservation Commission has continued their Hearing until November 10, 2017 at 5pm.
Donna asked for questions from the Planning Board members.
Nick: Questioned how deep the drillings will be.
Answer: Six (6) to (8) inches into the ground.
Peter: Is there an engineering consultant?
Donna: Yes – Hill Engineering.
Donna: “Wells Road down south is high and East Harbor Road is higher. Flashes of glare on Wells Road are a problem.” Donna is not against solar but the responsibility of the Cheshire Planning Board is to abide by the bylaws.
Nick: Most concerned about property values. It could be a five (5) 5 or 25% decrease. Even one (1) % of a decrease is a concern. There is no concrete evidence”.
Ron: “What are our options?” Section 10 - page 42. See Large Scale Photovoltaic Bylaw.
Peter: “We have allowed other solar projects.”
Donna: Issues with screening. They can’t change the orientation of the panels. Cost would be prohibitive for Borrego and not as productive.
Reviewed 1.3 Purpose of the Cheshire Planning Board.
Peter: We need to preserve what we have and to encourage new businesses, which we do. There is no question that the proposed project if located elsewhere and not in a scenic area it would be approved. Yet, adjacent property would be affected. Our purpose is to maintain what we have.
Nick: Adding to prosperity – there is only one (1) owner.
Donna: “The Cheshire Planning Board is not restricting growth, we have accepted other solar projects. However this location would discourage young families from moving to the area.”
People come here for a reason and she feels it is not for the betterment of the town. There are twenty other locations better suited. We can’t achieve what our bylaws set forth.
A motion was made by Nick on the Special Permit Application by Borrego Solar for Thomas and Barbara Ayotte of 203 East Road as set forth, 2nd by Ron. The vote taken was 0 votes yea, and five (5) nay votes to deny the permit.
Next Meeting: Monday, November 27, 2017 - 7PM - Cheshire Annex.
Peter motioned to adjourn at 9:00pm; 2nd by Nick with a unanimous vote taken.
Carole A. Hilderbrand, Secretary
Donna DeFino, Chairman
Peter H. Traub
Ronald W. DeAngelis