Opinion: Vote to approve both the solar bylaw and moratorium
To the Editor:
Please vote for both solar by-law articles 15 on the special town meeting warrant and 19 on the regular warrant.
Large-scale ground-mounted solar installations have brought significant destruction to Wareham’s environment with hundreds of acres of forest and wildlife destroyed, clean water and air threatened.
At 2021 Spring Town Meeting a 10-acre limit on solar by-law unanimously passed limiting devastating deforestation.
However: before that article passed, 1400 additional acres of large scale solar plans were grandfathered under by-law 2014.
This March, the Mass. Attorney General denied that bylaw because it lacked factual substantiation that prohibiting deforestation protects public health, safety and welfare, the only reasons for which Mass. law allows regulation of large scale solar.
Before 2020’s bylaw was denied, the solar by-law committee submitted Warrant Article S15, unaware of the AG’s reasons for denial.
Also during March, the Supreme Judicial Court heard a case between a solar developer and the town of Waltham. By August 2022, the Justices will define MA. Gen. Law 40A — possibly ruling large scale solar must be located in all zones, determined by each siting’s merits alone.
Because by-law S15 was written without knowing AG AND SJC specifications, S15 may fail.
If S15 fails Town Meeting, the 2014 by-law will prevail. If S15 passes but is denied by the AG sometime in 2022-23, the 2014 by-law will prevail..
However, if Article 19’s moratorium passes Town Meeting and the AG approves Article 19 to research and factually substantiate that public health, safety and welfare warrant protection from large scale solar, the 2014 law will not prevail whether S15 fails Town Meeting or AG approval. The moratorium will pause, or “freeze" S15 as stated by Town Administrator Sullivan.
Either way, passing both S15 and moratorium Article 19 promotes siting solar without destroying forestland and animals. It allows us to protect Forests as Forests protect water, air and us. Forests are life itself.