Aug. 30—HAVERHILL — More green energy is coming to Haverhill in the form of a solar array planned for rural Amesbury Line Road.
The massive 2-megawatt array, consisting of 6,048 photovoltaic panels, will be used to generate electricity from the sun and received the unanimous support of the City Council.
Solar Smart LLC of South Carolina received a special permit from the council to construct a $4.5 million large-scale ground-mounted solar array at 139 Amesbury Line Road.
Property owner Ted Xenakis plans to lease a portion of his land, which he lives on, for the array, officials said.
Attorney Robert Harb, who is representing Solar Smart LLC, told the council recently that the project will help serve the community's energy needs, and would not generate traffic other than what is needed to service the array, which will be accessed by a dirt road.
"We're not using any water or sewer and we're not going to have any children to educate," Harb said about the passive nature of the project.
The project will contribute to the city's tax base in the form of negotiated payments.
Harb said a surety bond will be filed to cover the costs of the future disassembly and removal of the system.
Alternative uses for the space are limited due to the nature of the property, Harb noted in documents he provide to the council, and include moderate-intensity organic farming and limited residential development.
The array would take up 18.6 acres of the total 26.8 acres of mostly wooded land and would be located about 800 feet away from Amesbury Line Road and border the driveway for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School.
Students at the school are expected to benefit from the project's educational opportunities including access to weather and solar output data and access to emerging technologies in energy systems engineering.
Raised observation areas are proposed, along with a perimeter walking trail and pollinator planted areas and bee hives.
Harb said the project would be built in a Water Supply Protection Overlay District but would not have an adverse environmental impact on any body of water or on the quantity or quality of an existing water supply.
All city departments, including conservation, had no objections to the project although some had concerns which were addressed by a representative from Solar Smart.
As a condition of approval for a special permit, the project must continue to receive the approval of all city departments and department heads.
Harb said Solar Smart must have one final hearing with conservation to address various concerns before final approval is granted.
Councilor William Macek praised the project for being passive and not disruptive to neighbors.
"I think it's one of the most professional plans we've received," he said.
Project at a glance