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School solar array finds approval at town level

December 31, 2013 by

Lakeview’s Town Planning Committee had their third and final hearing over whether to grant Obsidian Renewables permits required for their proposed solar array serving the Daly Middle School, High School and District #7 offices.

The meeting took place on the evening of Monday, Dec. 9, with the Committee choosing to approve the project.

This is, however, not the last piece, as the School Board of Directors must still okay the construction. See story elsewhere in this edition.

Obsidian was applying for three different aspects of the project to be approved, the site design, the proposed use of the land and fencing with barbed wire on the top.

For this meeting, Todd Gregory, vice president of Obsidian, was the sole representative of the company in attendance.  In the audience were a few local contractors, Jim Walls of LCRI, Supt. Sean Gallagher of School District #7 and a few others.

Gregory gave a brief outline of Obsidian’s history and the Committee moved to soliciting new statements for or against the project.  The contractors all expressed their support of Obsidian Renewables, which employed them to construct particular parts of past solar projects.

Gallagher and Walls both noted the potential savings for the schools, should the project be approved, with Gallagher emphasizing the educational benefits.

He was asked if the school district had taken any action to move forward with the project, to which Gallagher replied that the school board was waiting to see what happened with the Planning Committee.

Some concern from the previous meeting was noted as to whether the panels would last 25 years as per estimates, which prompted contractor Rob Thornton to mention panels from Drake’s Peak still producing after 30 years.

The Planning Committee then asked for anyone in opposition to the project to speak.  A resident of South L Street across from the lot serving as the site for the project spoke up and asked a few questions of Gregory.

She expressed a few concerns about how close it might be to her house and how long it might take to construct.  Gregory estimated it would be a football field’s length away and might take 60 days or so to construct.

The Committee then closed the hearing for deliberation, talking over some of the issues raised at the previous meeting including zoning and the size of the project.  Through the town’s legal counsel, the project was determined to be fall under the classification of a private utility and was ultimately approved.

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