DANVILLE- The Danville selectboard is taking a neutral stance on a local solar panel project after a meeting Thursday night was met with aggression. The controversial topic wasn’t on the agenda; Scott and Joni Palmer had to be written in as the meeting started.
The room turned tense as the Palmers brought with them official documents from the selectboard regarding their project. Scott claimed the selectboard’s documents did not get the whole picture of what their proposed solar farm would entail.
“The Agency of Natural Resources has agreed with us, with the project. We’ve agreed to their conditions. There’s all kinds of things in these letters that are misleading and misrepresenting the truth,” Scott told them.
The Palmers had been previously approached by a man who was starting a solar company, and asked Joni how she felt about installing a solar farm on their property. Joni, a big supporter of solar energy, gladly agreed on a nine-feet tall, four-acre solar farm on their property. The Danville selectboard, however, had other plans.
According to Scott, the selectboard’s open meeting last week refused any public comment on the manner, and a zoning administrator asked him and his wife, “Could you have picked a worse spot in Danville?”
None of their nearby neighbors had an issue with the project, but some members of the selectboard thought the solar panels fit with the town plan solely because the plan was outdated. Industrial development doesn’t match the historical presence of Danville, selectboard member Angelo Incerpi said.
“If the Palmers wanted to develop free electricity they could put solar panels on their roof and there’d be no problem, but this is clearly an industrial development in our town and I think the plan clearly states that this is not where the people of this town wanted to go,” Incerpi said.
According to the Palmers, the public service board visited the site without their knowing beforehand. The visit proceeded to show different locations in which the future solar farm could be viewed from a distance. Then, last Wednesday, a special selectboard meeting was held to redraft a letter to be sent to the public service board. The chairman declined comment, stating the board’s conflicting opinions on the project.
One week later, at the next selectboard meeting, the Palmers were quick to get to the point with their formal complaint on how the members faced the issue. After several objections from various selectboard members, Scott had enough and got right to the point with how the zoning administrators didn’t get the full picture.
“They had a public meeting and wouldn’t let us speak. They didn’t even know where our project was located down there. They didn’t know if it was out to Route 2 or 500 feet from Route 2. But you people sent a letter not supporting without getting actual facts,” Palmer exclaimed.
As the room turned quiet, Joni tried to calm Scott down, but she knew the selectboard didn’t handle their project correctly.
“They’ve withheld information. They’ve also provided misleading borderline untruthful lies about the project. We’ve lived here for twenty years, we’ve always been in the same district, and we know exactly where we are outside the design control,” Joni said.
After reviewing the documents, the selectboard still couldn’t agree on one unanimous conclusion. However, with minor complaint, they passed to take a stance of neutrality on the Palmer’s solar panel project.
With their business concluded, Scott and Joni Palmer stood up and walked out.