NEWBURYPORT — A Boston-based company hopes to place more than 4,500 solar panels on top of a closed landfill on Colby Farm Lane, but city officials have concerns about the site, which has not been sealed by its owner.
The site, often referred to as the "Crow Lane landfill," is owned by New Ventures, which capped the site after the company stopped adding trash to it in 2009. But in the years since, decaying material in the landfill has continued to emit foul odors and irritate neighbors.
Vapors from the decay are vented through pipes and burned off by flares, but the flares have occasionally gone out, causing the smelly vapors to waft through the area. New Ventures is under a court order to close and seal the landfill to the satisfaction of state environmental officials.
BlueWave Solar has filed an application with the city's planning office to place a "non-penetrating, ground-mounted solar array" on top of the closed landfill cover system.
The proposed project would include up to 4,518 solar modules mounted on concrete block foundations, a driveway and turnaround, a "concrete pad with inverter/transformer equipment," an associated conduit and a security fence. No buildings are proposed as part of the project.
The city will hold a public meeting on the proposal from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday in City Hall Auditorium. The informal session will see BlueWave representatives present the project, answer questions from residents, and review concerns.
Ward 5 City Councilor Larry Giunta said while he supports the idea of having solar panels on the site, he is still concerned the state Department of Environmental Protection has not signed off on full closure of the landfill.
"I think a solar array would be a good use for the site, but I need to make sure the landfill is 100 percent closed before we move forward," Giunta said. "New Ventures needs to do everything it was supposed to do for all these years to fully close it."
Giunta said that upon notifying Ward 5 residents of the project, he received a unanimous response from people hoping New Ventures will fulfill its obligation to close the landfill.
John DeVillars, a former Massachusetts secretary of the environment, past chairman of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and former New England administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is listed as a co-founder and chairman of BlueWave Solar.
For more information on BlueWave Solar, see https://bluewavesolar.com/
To read a chronology of the Crow Lane landfill, go to http://littleriverbasin.org/CrowLaneLandfillChronology.htm
To see a PDF of the solar array proposal, go to NewburyportNews.com.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.