Lakeview’s Town Planning Board met for the second time to look over conditional use and variance permits applied for by Obsidian Renewables on Monday, Nov. 4.
Obsidian is continuing to work toward constructing a solar array to provide for the Lakeview High School-Daly Middle School complex’s future power needs.
The first planning meeting over the required permits for the project was cut short after the observation was made that not all those who would be affected by the project had been contacted.
This second meeting allowed members of the community to come forward and express their opinions on the project. First, Laurie Hutchinson, representing Obsidian at the meeting, made a short presentation on her company’s history in the area, with four solar arrays nearly complete.
She outlined plans to create a privacy screen on the north side of proposed fencing around the solar site, with trees and even a sidewalk if necessary. Also on the table is moving the school’s greenhouse to allow for more space to be left in the field by the school district office building.
Hutchinson estimated that the array would only take about a third of the field space.
Jim Walls then made a statement in support of the plan and Obsidian’s reputation as executive director of LCRI. “I’ve worked with Obsidian,” he said, “and we’re working with them on a 4-H program right now.” He expressed that he thought students at the LHS and ILC would benefit from instruction based around the solar array as well as the energy savings.
District #7 Supt. Sean Gallagher also voiced his support of the project, saying that even though the school’s Board of Directors hadn’t yet approved the idea, they wanted to go through the process of getting community input.
“I see a lot of benefits from the array. It goes right along with our geothermal project and the direction of the district,” said Gallagher.
Other members of the community then asked questions of Hutchinson, wondering if the panels would be made outside the United States and if the panels would end up as toxic waste due to chemicals in some types of solar panel.
Nugent wasn’t sure if the panels would end up coming from a foreign manufacturer, but stated that Obsidian was using silicon-based modules that had few toxic chemicals as part of their manufacture.
Others attending the meeting expressed a number of negative opinions on the project.
Finally, the meeting began to come to a close, with the board ultimately deciding to table the decision for further research into some of the matters brought up in the meeting.
Hutchinson, after the meeting, said she didn’t think the project falls into any particular category in the building code, and wasn’t sure what a private utility would be, either. The next meeting for the process is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 9.