Projects/Green Community/Planning and Zoning

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This is a working area for the required Planning & Zoning commitments to become a Green Community:

  • Provide for the as-of-right siting of renewable or alternative energy generating facilities, renewable or alternative energy research and development (R&D) facilities, or renewable or alternative energy manufacturing facilities in designated locations.
  • Adopt an expedited application and permitting process under which these energy facilities may be sited within the municipality and which shall not exceed 1 year from the date of initial application to the date of final approval.

DoER Guidance Documents

The DoER has provided several guidance documents on adopting as-of-right zoning:

  • 15 solar PV - including Dedham, Harvard, Lexington, Lincoln, Winchester
  • 3 wind

All these documents are also available from this page on the DoER's web site.

RTS as a site for ground-mounted solar

On September 23, I brought Chip Laffey, Mario Araya and Carys Lustig to a meeting at Chapman Construction and Design. Chapman is a design and construction firm on Winchester Street in Newton that has been very focused on sustainable and LEED building. I work with them on the Newton-Needham Chabmer of Commerce Environmental sub-committee. I got them interested in helping us with exploring the feasibility of ground-mounted solar at the RTS.

While ground-mounted solar at the RTS is a great project idea in its own right, another reason for pursuing it is to have a real project for the purposes of getting as-of-right zoning passed for renewable energy generation at the RTS (which would satisfy that criteria of the Green Communities qualification).

Chapman will do a preliminary site survey for solar at the RTS at no charge. They will take basic measurements, do a shade analysis, then produce a drawing that outlines what a solar configuration there might look like, and provide an estimate for a full feasibility study.

A full feasibility study is likely to cost somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000, depending on the work needed. With the initial analysis in hand, we can go to the Town as well as to outside funding sources (grants) to fund the feasibility study.

The feasibility study would produce a detailed description of the cost and specifics of a solar installation, how much power would be generated and an implementation plan. At that point, there are two basic options for implementation:

  • The town could undertake the project, providing the capital, owning and managing the installation and reaping all the benefits
  • The town could pursue a third-party PPA, where it would allow a third-party to install the facility through a lease and receive discounted power and/or other financial considerations.

As-of-right siting for solar energy

The as-of-right siting requirement for Green Communities qualification can be met by zoning an area sufficient to deploy 250kw of ground mounted solar. This is approximately one acre.

The RTS is a great candidate for this siting requirement. From the standpoint of concerns about as-of-right siting generally, the fact that the Town is the landowner means that it would retain a say in what is actually developed. The RTS is also an ideal site for ground-mounted solar because of its size and the virtually unshaded exposure to the sun.

Model Bylaw for Solar

This DoER has prepared this model bylaw for as-of-right siting of solar energy generating facilities.

Other Communities

3/18/10 - Ashland's planning board will propose zoning changes meant to bolster alternative energy, the MetroWest Daily News reports. The proposals would allow projects ranging from large solar arrays to research facilities, according to the Daily News.