Scarborough committee examines utility-wide solar ordinance
SCARBOROUGH – Members of the Scarborough Ordinance Committee have said they want more time to assess a utility-wide solar ordinance proposal before submitting anything to city council.
Sustainability coordinator Jami Fitch told the committee on May 20 that she and the city’s sustainability committee had been working for a year on language for an ordinance that would allow utility-scale solar panels.
In 2019, Maine passed laws that make solar development more attractive and feasible for municipalities, she said. Solar equipment will also become taxable on April 1, 2022.
Solar developers can make deals to lease private land, Fitch said. Currently, four farms are considering relocating to Scarborough.
In a note to the committee, Fitch said the proposed ordinance targets solar development in industrial, light industrial, rural and agricultural and rural districts, agriculture and prefabricated housing.
Fitch said the sustainability committee used other utility-wide ordinances in Maine as a framework.
Committee members expressed support for a more in-depth analysis of the subject. Councilor Ken Johnson, a member of the committee, added that the city is trying to preserve rural agricultural areas.
He and Councilor Don Hamill, members of the committee, said they would like to see a map of where the solar farms would go in Scarborough.
Public commentator Alyson Bristol said she was in favor of solar farming, but was concerned about the draft rural and agricultural district ordinance.
“My concern with the ordinance as written is the authorization to install a large-scale system anywhere in the RF district,” she said. “… There are still areas of the RF District that are in practical rural residential areas, such as Highway 77 at the corner of Spurwink Road, where a utility scale solar farm would be incongruous with the surrounding residential area. .
Committee members accepted a suggestion from President and Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina to visit a solar farm before making other decisions.