Sanford continues to defend its unofficial title of Solar Energy Capital of Maine with the latest project to be approved by the Planning Board. BWC Bauneg Beg LLC, a subsidiary of Boston-based BlueWave Solar, will construct a 5.55 MW DC solar array on property owned by Blueberry Vista, LLC, off Sam Allen Road and Pinewood Drive.
The solar array will occupy approximately 19 acres of a 48-acre landlocked parcel of land in the Rural Residential zone, behind the Yellowstone Park Campground. It will be accessed through a private way that runs through and behind the Pinewood Dr. mobile home park, which is also owned by Blueberry Vista. The project will offset an estimated 5,203 metric tons of carbon per year and will generate as much power as five millions pounds of coal burned per year.
There is one vernal pool on the site which is considered significant, and extensive forested wetlands on three sides of the proposed array. The project is designed with a 250’ buffer to the vernal pool and 75’ buffers to the wetlands. Due to the wide buffers of forested land, the project is not expected to be visible to neighbors or from nearby roads.
The property is located within the South Sanford Barrens Focus Area, which is identified in the City’s Conservation Plan. Sensitive species that have been documented in close proximity to the project site include the threatened Spotted Turtle, and the endangered Black Racer Snake. BWC is working with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to maintain the pine and oak scrub habitat that is favored by the Black Racers.
The site is located within the Airport Approach Protection Overlay Zone, but the Federal Aviation Administration has determined there is no hazard to air navigation.
Electric lines connecting the solar panels to the inverters and transformers will be underground, but there will be overhead lines along the access road. There will be a seven-foot fence around the property, with a locking gate. The fence will be raised to allow small animals to pass underneath.
On October 19, the project was recommended by the Site Plan Review Committee 5-0, and forwarded to the Planning Board, which also gave unanimous approval to the site plan, private way, and conditional use on the following evening. As a condition of approval, the Board is requiring that the facility follow procedures to prevent deer from being trapped inside the fence when the gate is open.
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