, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 2, 2013

Acrimony rises over solar panel plans


“Leave us out of it,” responded farmer Bill Colby from his seat in the audience.

A few rose in support of the Pikul’s proposal but the majority who spoke at the hearing were against it.

When it was his turn to speak, Colby urged selectmen to vote how they felt and not let contractors and others from outside the community influence the debate. “Whether it’s the best thing that ever happened to the town or the worst thing, it effects us. We live here,” he said.

Colby’s son, Jack, argued that preserving vistas directly impacted the welfare of the town. Views of pastoral scenes and cows are what attract visitors to Newbury. “It makes them want to live here,” he said.

One Scotland Road resident offered lengthy research in an attempt to raise a red flag about the use of hazardous materials like lead in the solar panels as well as the viability of the solar industry in general and Trina Solar in particular.

Kleiman described the amount of lead used as “minute” and said these are panels regularly used in schools, town halls, and backyards with no ill effects. He said that the plan exceeds required setbacks and stressed that the Pikuls are not “landscapers” for other homeowners on Scotland Road. They are farmers trying to supplement their income.

“It’s not your land. It’s the Pikul’s land -- and people don’t like to be told what to do with their land,” Kleiman said.

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