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Cheshire Will Not Appeal Court's Solar Decision

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen will not appeal the court’s decision to allow the installation of a solar array on East Harbor Road.

After an executive session Tuesday, the selectmen agreed they will take no action on Superior Court’s decision to reverse the Planning Board's denial of a special permit to a resident interested in using their land for solar array development in an agricultural retention zone near the intersection of Wells Road and East Harbor Road.

"The Board of Selectmen have decided not to appeal the court’s decision, but they are going to continue negotiations going forward with the Planning Board," Chairwoman Carol Francesconi said.

Last week some residents met with the board to air their concerns about a solar array near their properties. They urged the selectmen to appeal the court’s decision.

The judge did ask that the Planning Board take another look at the permit to consider imposing "reasonable conditions" to mitigate concerns such as glare which Francesconi said will be discussed at future Planning Board meetings.

In other business, the board has yet to meet with the Advisory Board to discuss the proposed $6,088,255 fiscal year 2019 budget because the Advisory Board has been unable to hold a quorum.

Town Administrator Mark Webber said they have to meet next week to pin down the budget and warrant articles.

"I told them that we have to meet next week," he said. "We have to do it all next week."

The selectmen did go over some of the proposed warrant articles and agreed that they want to both use free cash to purchase a new pickup truck for the Highway Department and borrow money to purchase a new plow truck.

"I saw we go for the whole thing," Selectman Ed St. John IV said.

The board originally wanted to use $40,000 from free cash to purchase a new pickup truck so Highway Superintendent Blair Crane would no longer have to use his personal vehicle. However, Crane suggested using the funds to instead repair a 2006 plow truck that would allow the town to use the truck all year and hopefully extend its lifetime.

Webber said the town could do both and ask town meeting permission to borrow to purchase the $230,000 truck with a following debt exclusion vote.

He said payments would start in fiscal year 2020 and it would likely cost the town a little over $40,000 annually for five years.

He added that the plow truck the town has been paying off since 2012 recently just came off the books.

St. John also requested that they add an article that would allocate $1,500 from free cash to fund a pilot program that would allow the town's residents to utilize the Adams Council on Aging vehicle they recently received from Fallon Health for transportation out of the county.

"It is to really to determine the viability to see if we really want to use this vehicle and make it part of our budget," St. John said. "This will allow us to dip our toes in the water to see if it is worth sharing."

The town’s current Council on Aging vans cannot travel out of county and the car would primarily be used for medical trips. The $1,500 would be used for fuel, maintenance and paying drivers.

Towards the beginning of the meeting, Crane asked permission to demolish a small structure near the batting cages on the Cheshire Elementary School grounds.

"It has trees growing out of it, it has a leaky roof and can we get rid of it?" he asked. "There were kids there the other day messing around in there…and I think it is a hazard."

Francesconi said she did not think any athletic leagues were using it but would check with leagues that use the field just to be sure.

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