Solar reuse project coming to Martin Street

Solar reuse project coming to Martin Street

CUMBERLAND – The type of solar development “Cumberland should be happy with” is coming to 24 Martin St., says an attorney for those behind a project to build a new solar carport.

Andrew Blais, of KSRP Law in Providence, said the plan calls for a steel solar carport in an industrial setting, with no clear-cutting of trees, no disturbance of neighbors, and the benefits of alternative energy with no negative environmental impact.

Redwood Realty II LLC sought the preliminary plan approved by the Planning Board on July 29 on behalf of Stuart Flanagan and Newport Renewables.

The solar facility would be located between the Boys & Girls Club and the redeveloped Berkeley Mill in an area that’s seen a number of improvements, including the reconstruction of the Berkeley Oval baseball field.

The carport with rooftop solar would be located on 6.5 acres of land at an existing construction business. The solar facility would have a 253.8-kilowatt capacity, and because it’s over 250 kilowatts, this is considered a major land development.

An 82-foot by 156-foot frame roof supported by steel columns and concrete footings previously received a dimensional variance for height from zoning.

Flanagan said the steel structure with solar roof will be situated over an existing asphalt parking lot currently used to store trucks, road signs and construction materials used by one of the tenants. All energy will be sold back to National Grid.

Longtime Berkeley Village resident Janice Goulet, of nearby Victory Street, told the Planning Board at its July 29 meeting that she had questions about glare from the arrays, but Flanagan assured her that the panels have an anti-reflective coating and are designed to absorb sunlight, not reflect it.

The facility will be 200 feet back from Martin Street, and Planning and Community Development Director Jonathan Stevens said it’s hard to imagine it having an adverse impact on neighbors based on vegetative buffers and distance.

August Botelho, also of Victory Street, said he too had questions about the visual impact of the facility and what he and his tenants will be seeing from their property, including how tall it will be.

After going back and forth with no real answers to give Botelho on how it will look, Planning Board member Roy Costa said he was not comfortable voting to approve, but after receiving assurances from Stevens that there will be no “significant visual intrusion,” and learning from Flanagan that the solar project will be only 11 inches taller than a 23-foot garage on the current property, Botelho said his questions were answered and Costa and the board approved the application.