SALISBURY — The town has more than seven additional acres of preservation land after a local businessman donated two lots to the town, as mitigation for mistakenly cutting down trees in wetlands area while preparing to build a solar energy farm.

According to Town Manager Neil Harrington, in the process of building his solar park on Rabbit Road, Jim Vaughn of True North Energy had to have the trees on several acres of his land cut down to make room for the installation of solar panels.

"In the course of the cutting, a mistake was made by one of (Vaughn's) consultants, and several trees were cut in an area where the trees were to have been preserved," Harrington said. "(Vaughn) was appalled when he realized what happened and called the town to report it."

In response to the error, Salisbury's Conservation Commission issued Vaughn an enforcement order, Harrington said. As part of the mitigation for the mistake, Vaughn offered to buy two parcels of land adjacent to his proposed development and donate them to the town for conservation and passive recreational use.

Vaughn is building and will operate a six-megawatt solar energy facility on 43 acres of a 54-acre site he owns off Rabbit Road. It's behind Vaughn Manufacturing, the water heater company he once owned but has since sold. When up and running, it's estimated the farm will provide enough green energy to the local grid to displace a half a million gallons of oil.

Tree cutting was necessary for the installation of 30,000, ground-mounted solar panels, which can produce as much as 7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, enough to power 1,000 homes.

Vaughn had the area surveyed, Harrington said, and trees were marked as to which were to be cut and which were not. The mistake made by the logger who cut the trees was unfortunate, he added.

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