Why did the committee shift focus away from overlay district to screening and tree-cutting bylaws?
After the initial meetings, the committee had begun further researching and working on both approaches to send to the Planning Board for consideration. The Planning Board would then have more than one plan to consider for the final town warrant.
However, during the ZAC meeting on January 11th, the debate took a different turn when the town counsel advised against a solar overlay district bylaw. The main issues were:
- The district bylaw would single out and target just solar and would not be broad enough for other types of development. The degree to which the land being cleared for solar is harmful to the environment but it could not be concluded that this same level of harm is not caused by any other type of commercial or residential development.
- In a recent decision in 2019, based on a proceeding, the chief justice of the land court basically rejected the idea altogether that one can prohibit solar in some districts and allow it in others.
- Town Counsel said the overlay may not hold up in court and without any precedent, there is no way of definitively knowing.
Video Reference – Listen to the discussion against Solar Overlay
Dec 28, 2020 – ZAC solar zoning debate continues, with opinions split between overlay map or bylaw changes • Jan 12, 2021 – Town counsel cautions ZAC on commercial solar restrictions; discussion to continue