WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Jim Harvey has been attempting to add a 2.24 megawatt solar field to his farm land for close to a year, and he now sits one vote away from realizing that dream.
"It's going to be a beautiful project," said project manager Charles Jenkins. "It's going to be a jewel by the time we're done."
The solar farm is not only the largest in scale to be approved in Westborough, according to Board Chair Leigh Emery, but it is also on land that is zoned residential.
The field will be composed of 10,000 solar "modules" and take up about eight acres.
A bylaw passed at last October's Town Meeting precluded such a large-scale installation but the Zoning Board of Appeals granted Harvey a use variance.
"The plan is very consistent with the now implemented zoning regulations even though it was done prior to that," said project attorney Adam Braillard.
No issues were brought forth by the building inspector during site-plan review, but the Board of Selectmen was unable to grant final approval at its most recent meeting because all of the documents were not received in time. The selectmen all said they were in favor of the project after Harvey spoke to the question of view mitigation from the neighboring cemetery and homes.
"When the ZBA came out to the site they complimented the great protection of the property," Harvey said, noting that more trees will be planted before the project's completion.
The plan also calls for the panels to be tilted southward, so there should be no glare issue for anyone in the cemetery.
The formal vote to approve the site plan will take place at the Feb. 26 Selectmen meeting, following which the project can finally begin.
In December, the town came to an agreement with the panel owners to buy back the excess electricity at a discounted rate. The deal could save Westborough $1.9 million over 20 years.
"It's one of the first models like this that has been successfully moved on," Jenkins said. "We're going to do the best we can for you to hold your heads high and say 'we did this in Westborough, we did it first and we did it right.'"