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December 6, 2012

Newbury selectman courting solar array

Portion of proposed site default on property taxes

NEWBURY — Two private landowners — including a town selectman — have agreed to lease acreage for the next 20 years to accommodate a renewable energy site in Newbury.

Selectman Chairman Joe Story and Richard D. Corsetti are teaming up with Borrego Solar of Lowell and the City of Methuen to locate a 4.2-megawatt solar array for electricity generation through the National Grid network, according to a press release issued this week.

The lease is part of a larger plan to install and operate a ground-mounted solar array in Methuen, which is expected to save that city approximately $125,000 in electric costs annually with no exposure to inflation.

Although the town of Newbury is not a signer on the lease, it still stands to benefit from the agreement through receipt of $672,000 in personal property tax revenues generated from the local array over the life of the lease. The town will also receive a one-time building permit fee of $125,000. According to the press release, the project, which is due to be installed “in the near future,” will not add demands for town services.

The exact location of the Newbury site has yet to be disclosed.

But Town Administrator Tracy Blais confirmed that the property Story is leasing is one of three parcels on which he and other family members owe nearly $10,000 in back taxes to the town. Story and his family own 6.25 acres at 240 High Road, 2.27 acres at 29 Newbury Neck Road, .93 acres at 32 Newbury Neck Road, all of which have delinquent tax payments.

An Instrument of Taking‚ the legal mechanism by which the town takes title of a property for non-payment of taxes, was issued in December 2011. Blais stressed that the town follows the same procedures for all delinquency — a demand for payment, followed by a tax lien and finally a foreclosure.

“This collaboration does not halt that process; it is a completely separate issue,” Blais said. Once the back taxes on a property are paid, the town files an Instrument of Redemption with the Registry of Deeds and title is restored to the owner.”

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