Solar Panels vs Houses – May 2018 Sutton Town Meeting
There are a number of contentious issues on the list for the May 14, 2018 Sutton MA town meeting which begins at 7pm in the Sutton High School. One of those issues involves a new field of solar panels. The problem for many is that they’re aren’t being put in a back corner where they won’t be seen. They’re being put near Manchaug Pond.
Here’s the warrant for the town meeting, so you can read the exact changes for yourself.
Sutton already has a number of solar panel fields in place, so it’s not that Sutton bans solar panels altogether. It’s that the Whittier Farm is in a residential area. Whittier, like many local farms, is looking to find more creative ways to stay afloat. The Whittier Farm is beloved by many in the region because of its support of local causes and its maintenance of local farmland. They’re a fifth-generation farming family with over 500 acres of land to maintain.
Whitter Farms would need an amendment to current zoning rules in order to put solar panels on some of their property. This is the “Solar Photovoltaic Overlay Amendment”.
Some people want Whittier to simply keep the farmland mowed and maintained as farmland because it’s pretty that way. But clearly Whittier needs to pay its bills. It can’t just maintain its 500 acres as a gigantic garden for the locals to enjoy. Not enough locals buy their products to make that work out financially.
If Whittier doesn’t put solar panels on its property, it will probably have to sell the property to developers – meaning tons more houses, traffic, kids in school to pay for, and other “financial casualties”. The question for some people seems to come down as to whether they’d rather look at subdivisions on the hill as they motorboat around on Lake Manchaug or look at silver panels. I.e. it’s an aesthetic question. They think silver panels are “ugly” and houses are “pretty”.
Note that I’m fine with people who have legitimate concerns with solar panels for a number of reasons. But I am unhappy with the thought that people are looking at a serious financial issue for our town and members through the lens of “I won’t like how it looks while I am in the area”. Sutton is over 300 years old. It is more than one person’s visual challenges.
It’s important for all Suttonians to research the issue, understand what is at stake, and vote. Please don’t just vote because it’ll be pretty or ugly. Vote for reasons that matter long term for the town of Sutton and its community.
The Town Meeting is Monday, May 14th at 7pm.