Glenburn could ban medium- and large-scale solar panel projects if residents approve a policy change that would prohibit all projects over 15,000 square feet in the town.
Glenburn will hold a public hearing and special meeting on March 17 to gather input from the community in response to the proposed amendment, Town Manager Daniel McClung said.
A temporary moratorium on such projects is in effect, but the new amendment would effectively ban all medium and large solar panel arrays if passed, McClung said.
Glenburn is part of a growing group of towns that have hit the brakes on solar projects as new installations and proposals for forthcoming installations have proliferated in Maine over the past few years. Versant Power last summer, for example, had a raft of proposals from solar developers asking to connect to the grid in Penobscot County. The proliferation prompted a handful of towns last year to implement moratoria on solar projects until they could pass rules regulating such developments.
“There’s been a lot of sentiment about what we want Glenburn to look like long term,” McClung said, citing residents’ concerns about the impact of large-scale solar farms on Glenburn’s aesthetics and finances.
Glenburn, home to about 4,600 residents, is a bedroom community that doesn’t have a lot of commercial space, which residents also cited in their opposition, McClung said.
The new ordinance would not apply to smaller-scale solar installations at private homes or on small businesses’ property, such as roof-mounted arrays or ground projects less than 15,000 square feet, said Chris Grotton, the Glenburn Town Council chair.
“The goal is to get rules and structures in place first,” Grotton said. “We want to make sure we understand the utilities and resources needed and the impact on services as a community before they proliferate.”
The town has approved one application for a commercial solar farm on Broadway, which is also Route 15, McClung said.
Dixmont passed an ordinance last fall that temporarily banned solar projects while the town crafted rules requiring developers to set aside money to cover the costs of decommissioning solar panels when they reached the end of their lifespan.
The town will host its annual meeting on March 19 and vote on whether to pass an ordinance that would require solar developers to put estimated decommissioning funds into an escrow account or post a bond to cover such costs, Selectman David Bright said.
Ellsworth and Augusta also halted solar panel construction last summer, citing concerns about overdevelopment and aesthetics.