Conservation Commission approves Borrego solar field project

Apr 7, 2021

The Conservation Commission approved the controversial Borrego Solar Farm proposed for A.D. Makepeace property during their April 7 meeting, after very little discussion.

Some of the board members did not appear particularly happy with the outcome — but they also said they did not see an alternative to approving the project.

“What we love or what we want is different than what must be [...] approved,” said commission member Elissa Heard.

The project, set to be located at 140 Tihonet Road, is one of three large arrays planned for land owned by A.D. Makepeace. The three projects total roughly 180 acres in size.

Environmental activists have spoken out fiercely against the project, arguing that it will destroy acres of rare and fragile habitat and create stormwater runoff issues that will increase pollution in nearby bodies of water.

The plans for the site also include removing more than one million cubic yards of sand and gravel to grade the slope. It is unclear where that material would be taken, but if it is to be removed from Wareham, the project is required to get an earth removal permit from the Board of Selectmen and pay the town 25 cents per cubic yard removed.

Conservation Administrator David Pichette said a review of the solar field plans indicates that the project is in compliance with stormwater standards. 

“As I’ve said in the past, I do have serious concerns about the magnitude of the clear-cutting and the work to be done for this project,” Pichette said. “But the majority of that work is outside the buffer zone to the wetland resource area. The majority of this site is predominantly uplands, so, at this point, I would recommend the project go forward.”

Pichette suggested the board approve the project with standard conditions — and a few additional conditions. Among the added conditions was a requirement that any perimeter fencing be at least 6 inches off the ground and outside the 50 foot No Activity Zone and that the stormwater structures be maintained.

With a unanimous vote, the Conservation Commission approved the solar farm plans with both the standard and added conditions. 

A special permit for the Borrego solar farm project to be located at 140 Tihonet Rd. was approved by the Planning Board on March 23.