Borrego Solar Field approved by Planning Board

Mar 23, 2021

The Planning Board voted to approve a special permit for a Borrego solar field project at land owned by the A.D. Makepeace Company at 140 Tihonet Rd. 

As a condition of that permit, the company will not be allowed to start any work until the Chapter 61A right of first refusal is resolved.

Chapter 61A is an agricultural classification that allows land to be taxed at a lower rate. If a property owner wants to sell land classified this way, the town is given the right of first refusal to buy the property.

The project, which is still awaiting a Conservation Commission vote, has raised ire from activists concerned about the environmental impact of the project from the destruction of natural habitats and potentially contaminated stormwater runoff.

The project includes the removal of significant amounts of earth to prepare the site, which raised questions for some activists. A.D. Makepeace Company also owns a company that mixes and sells soils, meaning that the removal of earth could be profitable.

The town’s earth removal bylaw requires those removing large amounts of earth from the town of Wareham to obtain a permit from the Board of Selectmen and pay the town 25 cents per cubic yard removed.

According to the project’s application, the earth removed would be used for agricultural purposes by the A.D. Makepeace Company, although it is unclear whether those agricultural uses would be in Wareham or elsewhere. The company said that agricultural uses for soil are exempt from the bylaw.

The Planning Board members agreed at their March 22 meeting that questions of earth removal are up to the Board of Selectmen to resolve.

A spokesperson for the project said that the plans would necessitate the removal of 1.3 million cubic yards of sand, not 2.2 million as was estimated earlier, which one Planning Board member noted was “still a sh*tload of sand.”

The board approved the permit with a unanimous vote.