MANCHESTER — Neighbors and opponents of a proposed 500-kilowatt solar group net-metered electric generation facility on Richville Road in Manchester are planning to show up en masse at a scheduled site visit set by the Vermont Public Utility Commission on Tuesday.
The site visit was set at a May 10 evidentiary hearing as part of the application by MHG Solar LLC, which is seeking a Certificate of Public Good for the project.
The plan is to develop a little more than 8 acres of an open field located on Richville Road across from Green Mountain Road into a solar generation facility.
The field runs parallel to Richville Road with no trees or brush buffering the visual impact.
The PUC has already declared that the application, filed May 19, 2020, has “significant issues” regarding orderly development and aesthetics requiring a hearing to review the issues.
More than a dozen area residents have commented on the case, which has both support and opposition.
A number of those opposing the plan cite decreased property values, obscured views of Equinox Mountain, concerns about flooding, and the aesthetic impact of the project on the residential neighborhood across Richville Road.
The Manchester Town Plan says that projects that would impact roads providing scenic amenities [including Richville Road] “must be carefully evaluated, and development must be planned to minimize adverse impacts.”
The solar development would occupy the foreground of views of Equinox Mountain and the town has requested that aesthetic mitigation be limited in height so as not to obstruct those views.
The PUC has ordered that these issues must be evaluated and the site vision is one step in that process.
A PUC said the project must be examined, according to a procedural order entered Feb. 23, referencing “significant issues and notice of scheduling conference.”
“For these reasons, the Commission needs to examine whether the Project would be located in the foreground of a viewshed identified by the Town of Manchester as being of particular value,” the PUC wrote, as well as whether it would run counter to any regional plans as well.
The site visit, which is scheduled for 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, is open to the public, although the PUC asks that COVID-19 safety measures be taken by distancing and being respectful of others in attendance.
Members of the Public Utility Commission and the developer will also be on hand.
The site visit will be held at the field, located on Richville Road across from Green Mountain Road.