370 County Road solar project gets hearing

May 13, 2024

A 10-acre solar project at 370 County Road got a public hearing on Monday, May 13, with several commenters taking the opportunity to address the general state of solar development in Wareham. 

The owners of 370 County Road plan to build two large-scale ground-mounted solar arrays on two separate sections of land within the property. Together they cover approximately 10 acres of an approximately 60.5 acre property. 

Jillian Morton, an attorney for the applicant, said the installation of a solar farm would allow the property to continue as a working farm. 

The Planning Board questioned whether the property currently operated as a farm. Morton clarified that it could be used for agriculture. 

“Currently there’s not a cranberry crop in production necessarily, but what we want to do is maintain some sort of farming on this property,” said owner Patricia Zimmer. She added the farm currently has active bee hives, and she would like to return to growing trees. “It’s a work in progress.”

Residents who spoke during the public hearing raised concerns about the project’s impact on natural wildlife habitat, as well as the volume of solar development taking place in Wareham. 

“There’s already a solar field just Northwest of this site,” said town resident Eric Lintala. :Another development project is being proposed. This whole area all of a sudden is going to be inundated.”

Lintala added, “When we look at an individual project that’s being stated here, it doesn’t seem to be that much of an issue. But all of a sudden, what we need to also realize is what else is on the board, what else is being proposed.”

Planning Board member Carl Schultz addressed Lintala’s comments and said the board could not consider the cumulative impact of the number of solar projects in active development when it decides on one specific project. 

“Wareham does not have a bylaw that allows us to look at cumulative impact… While we’re informed by cumulative impact, we’re not ignorant of cumulative impact, we cannot issue a finding based on cumulative impact,” Schultz said. 

Discussion will continue at a future meeting of the Planning Board.