Planning Board roundup: Proposed Lincoln Street-area development moves forward; Faith Church plans solar panels over rear parking lot

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During its meeting Monday night, the Planning Board unanimously approved a special permit for the proposed Lincoln Street-area open space and landscape preservation development (OSLPD) concept plan, moving the eight-lot development forward after a few stops and starts.

The proposal for Deer Ridge Estates calls for extending Lincoln Street, a dead-end road off Cedar Street, and adding a cul-de-sac there with four new house lots, as well as constructing a new cul-de-sac off Cedar Street Extension with four house lots.

During the previous public hearing on Dec. 7, the Planning Board did not approve a waiver for the 100-foot buffer zone, as some board members felt that there were too many affected areas. That vote was 4-4.

On Monday the applicants presented an adjusted plan with fewer areas that had less than 100-foot buffers. However, there remained a narrow 10-foot buffer on the northern side of the new cul-de-sac off Cedar Street Extension. An abutter, Ida Pappas, expressed concern about it and received support from the board.

The board added a condition that that new road be shifted in order to create a larger buffer area for the Pappas property, making the open space close to equal with that on the southern side — although both sides would remain less than 100 feet, noted contractor Shane Perrault, who is partnering with Lincoln Street residents Courtney and Kyle Derderian to develop the property. The buffer zone waiver then passed 6-2.

Board OK’s solar panels over parking lot at Faith Church

Plankton Energy presented a minor project site plan to install six solar canopies over existing parking lots behind Faith Community Church at 146 East Main St.

Plankton founder/CEO Dan Giuffrida said the entire system consists of 1,740 panels that will produce a total output of 696 kilowatts of direct current.

“We are working in tandem to develop this project with the church,” Giuffrida told the board. “The church is both going to financially benefit from lease payments from Plankton Energy — we will be the owner of the system — and they’re also going to benefit from energy credits from the system that will allow them to save money on their electric bill. The remaining energy that the church is not purchasing will be sold through the Massachusetts Low-Income Community Solar Program, so we’ll be selling the energy at discounted prices to to-low-income customers in the Greater Hopkinton and Greater Boston area.”

Giuffrida said his company is hoping to start construction in late March and finish in late June or early July. He first has a meeting with the Conservation Commission on Tuesday night (UPDATE: The Conservation Commission approved the plan), and he said the company also is awaiting final approval from Eversource, which he expects in the next 3-4 weeks.

Sheryl Guglielmo of DiPrete Engineering, representing the applicant, said the utilities would be underground and the transformer would be screened with shrubs or bushes. Giuffrida added there would not be any “audible noise from the transformer or from the system itself.”

Principal planner John Gelcich noted that the plan “is one of the first that I’ve seen come across the Planning Board’s table for an accessory solar; usually it’s commercial solar. So this one is a little different in scope. It appears to not have a lot of impacts on the development since it’s already a constructed parking lot.”

Added Gelcich: “They’re not proposing to reduce the capacity of that parking area. So while they’re altering it, they’re not actually changing the parking area detrimentally. So I think that’s a plus in their book. Other than that it seems like it satisfies the site plan standards.”

The board unanimously approved the site plan, for which there were no waivers requested.

“This is definitely the kind of solar development we’d like to see,” commented board member Mary Larson-Marlowe, after reviewing the screening for neighbors (there are existing trees on both sides). “I’m all for this. I just want to make sure we aren’t missing any sight-line issues for abutters.”

Added Dave Paul: “It’s great to see a solar farm where there’s no trees cut down.”

South Street development discussion continues

Also at Monday’s meeting, discussion continued on the proposal by REC Hopkinton to construct a one-story commercial building and parking areas on South Street. The site, located across from a Dell EMC building at 80 South St., consists of approximately 11.7 acres of undeveloped land.

Developer Paul Mastroianni previously pushed to build a self-storage facility on the location, but that is not allowed by town bylaws. Mastroianni filed a citizens petition to get it in front of Town Meeting in 2019, but it was rejected by voters.

BETA engineer Phil Paradis, representing the town, raised concerns with the stormwater plan and how it might affect downstream abutters. He suggested further analysis.

John Kucich of Bohler Engineering, representing the developer, said the project has been designed to the state standards. He was to have further conversations with Paradis to address the concerns.

The hearing was continued to Jan. 4.

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