Dear friends and neighbors,
As fellow residents, we at Smart Solar Western Mass are wishing you a happy and healthy new year.
We’re writing to alert you to THREE important meetings coming up, all within the first two weeks of January. We are strongly encouraging your participation. Showing up for relevant Town committee/council/board meetings on Zoom has become crucial in our struggle to get Amherst to recognize the critical role that forests play in helping mitigate extreme climate change, as the Town strives to become a more sustainable community. We certainly need people to show up and we also need more people to make public comments at these meetings. The Town needs to understand that people care deeply about this issue.
All these meetings relate to the growing controversy regarding the destruction of large tracts of forests in our communities to build large scale solar installations.Under the guise of helping us fight climate change, the industries that propose these solar projects is asking us to sacrifice our carbon sequestering forests for their profit. Aside from their beauty, their provision of habitat, and their carbon sequestration, our forests are part of an ecological system that protects us from soil erosion, toxic runoff into our water supplies and flooding. We cannot allow their destruction! We need renewable energy, such as solar, and we need our forestlands – we MUST NOT replace one with the other. We need Smart Solar AND Forest Protection.
The Planning Board is meeting to discuss large scale solar zoning changes, review other towns’ solar by laws, and best practices.
A strong turnout for this meeting will ensure that the community takes the issue of ground mounted solar, very seriously. It is our position that consequences of thoughtless siting of large solar can have irreparable damage to the environment. We have seen, in Williamsburg, an example of how badly sited industrial solar can have disastrous outcomes. We need to understand what the consequences of our actions are before we take them.
The CRC, a sub-committee of the Town Council, makes recommendations to the full Town Council and is comprised of 5 members of the Town Council. The CRC will be meeting to discuss the Temporary Moratorium on Large Scale Ground Mounted Solar to give the Town the time to develop a solar bylaw. The CRC will make a recommendation to the TC regarding the moratorium.
A strong and vocal turnout will ensure that the CRC fully understands that the community strongly believes that the Town should have a bylaw regarding the siting of all large scale solar projects that require clear cutting of forests. There is far too much at stake. We must take the time to have a broad and deep community dialog and study about where solar can be sited in order to avoid irreversible and long term damages. We can’t make uninformed decisions where there are real and likely dire consequences to the environment, ecology, and water systems of our area. This meeting is extremely important because the Town Council makes the final decision on the moratorium, and this committee will make the recommendation to the Council.
Meeting 3. January 13, 2022: Shutesbury Conservation Commission: Zoom link will appear here: https://www.shutesbury.org/calendars
The Shutesbury Conservation Commission is charged with protecting the wetlands, aquifers, and water recharge system.
At this meeting it will review wetlands delineation studies for some of the proposed Amp/Cowls large solar projects in Shutesbury that could have dire consequences on the Amherst Town water supply in the Atkins Reservoir. A concern about placing large scale solar in watershed protected areas was raised at the Dec. 15, 2021 meeting of the Amherst Town Planning Board by a local aquatic biologist.
He raised serious questions regarding unregulated development of land within the Town’s watershed. He revealed some very important information in his statement regarding the watershed protection land in Shutesbury, which affect Amherst. The two principal tributaries, the Nurse and Dean Brooks, that supply water to the Atkins Reservoir fall entirely within four of the proposed in-ground solar arrays in Shutesbury. These two brooks feed the Atkins Reservoir, which provides 50% of Amherst’s water supply.
To keep informed go to smartsolarwmass.com Thank you for taking the time to read.
Smart Solar Western Mass