P&Z sets planting buffer around Sharon solar array

SHARON — The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) unanimously voted in favor of a planting buffer plan offered by Verogy and the Connecticut Green Bank, developers of the project.

The action was taken at the regular P&Z meeting Wednesday, March 13, following months of study and discussion, including a recent site visit to understand the visual impact on neighbors of the approved solar energy project to be installed at Sharon Center School.

Representing Verogy Solar Solutions of West Hartford, director of design Brad Parsons reviewed three options for vegetative buffer plantings to be installed between Hilltop Road residences and the project. The P&Z favored the most robust landscaping option offering maximum plantings.

Two of the options included evergreen plantings of white pine and white spruce in differing quantity, while the third option that was approved by the P&Z will see the planting of 21 white pine and white spruce trees, but intersperse deciduous planting of serviceberry, American dogwood, and witch hazel among the evergreens.

Discussion included the proximity of the existing overgrown nature trail to neighboring property lines, determining that brush removal will be a part of the preparations for tree plantings.

Rainwater runoff from the site was of concern to P&Z Chairman Laurance Rand, noting that runoff volume from the solar panels themselves could be an additional issue. Land use administrator Jamie Casey suggested that the town hire the services of a monitor. Betsy Hall, P&Z vice chair, agreed that monitoring runoff should be a priority.

Included in the approval was a P&Z provision that the town will hire a runoff monitor for up to one year following installation.

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