To the Editor:
The Norfolk County Commission owns and operates Norfolk County Agricultural High School (â€śthe Aggieâ€ť) in Walpole. It is moving forward with plans to lease 25 acres of forest and farmland to a commercial solar development company. If the project proceeds, the lease will last for 20 years.
The project would take 17.5 acres of the beautiful field on North Street (behind Bubbling Brook Restaurant), and a further 7.5 acres of forest land (near the high school buildings), and convert those lands into large-scale solar plants. The development requires the destruction of 10+ acres of forest and the installation of ground-mounted solar panels â€” all surrounded by high wire fences. It would destroy the existing trail system in both locations and eliminate the Norfolk Aggie cross country course and Haunted Hayride route.
This proposal is in direct contravention of the stateâ€™s â€śModel Zoning for the Regulation of Solar Energy Systems,â€ť published by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources in 2014, that states
â€śDOER strongly discourages locations that result in significant loss of land and natural resources, including farm and forest land, and encourages rooftop siting, as well as locations in industrial and commercial districts, or on vacant, disturbed land.â€ť
The departmentâ€™s recommendation is clear. Large-scale solar projects should first utilize places like rooftops of public buildings, landfills and unused highway land, rather than precious farm and forest land.
If, like us, you feel outraged by this proposal, please email and call your county and state representatives to voice your opposition. We support sustainable energy initiatives, but we should not pit one â€śgreenâ€ť initiative against another.
While the Walpole town Board of Selectmen might object to this proposal, they may have limited power to stop it, since Norfolk Countyâ€™s authority surpasses that of the town. The state is the ultimate authority to prevent this project from proceeding.
Make your opposition known!
Gerald Dundon, Sexton Farm Road, Walpole
Susan Shocket, North Street, Walpole
Tracy Firth, North Street, Walpole
On behalf of the Walpole Preservation Alliance