The Manchester Town Council approved rules that will shape any future community solar projects and discussed using town land for an electronic sign at Manchester Valley High School.
The first task was a public hearing to review planning and zoning rules for community solar energy generating systems. No Manchester residents sent in comments before the meeting.
These types of projects allow those who can’t install solar equipment of their own to “subscribe” to locally produced solar power from a system built in their area. The regulations, which can be found in full at the town’s website, at manchestermd.gov, address things like the height of ground-mounted equipment, the size of the lot and the increased requirements for landscaping on the lot.
Abe Bennett, who is listed on LinkedIn as a senior land developer at SGC Power, which concentrates on solar power generation projects, spoke at the meeting.
He said, “We’re in complete support of the way it’s written and think it’s an ordinance that we can use to move forward with.”
Mayor Ryan Warner said that when the matter came up a few months ago, Bennett made helpful comments on the matter and the council pushed it back to the Planning and Zoning Commission, asking them to work together on the language.
The town was previously approached by a group who wanted to build one of these systems, but the town did not have regulations laid out in its zoning code to dictate standards, Zoning Administrator Michelle Wilder has previously said. The goal of the regulations, under which only a few town properties would be suitable for a CSEGS project, is so that Manchester can be proactive, she said.
Any future CSEGS project proposed by an energy provider would have to be reviewed and approved by Manchester’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
The public announcement for the hearing states that the regulations are intended to make sure that a solar energy project built in town would “provide the benefits of renewable energy generation without unduly impacting the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Also in the meeting, Matt Colender, a representative of the Manchester Valley Advisory Committee, spoke to the council about possibly building an electronic sign for Manchester Valley High School on a piece of town-owned land.
The committee, which brings together local businesses in support of the school, took on a project to raise funds for a sign that would advertise events at the school and possibly help the boosters programs draw more support.
The committee wants to place it in a space that can be seen from both the north and south by drivers on Md. 30. But much of the land in that area is already claimed by right-aways and conservation land, Colender said.
The town agreed they could move forward looking into zoning, electricity, liability and other factors that have to be considered.
The council also voted unanimously to accept a bid from Stambaugh’s Construction for a $44,000 stormwater refurbishing project. Rodney Kuhns, public works director, said the company “did excellent work” on a similar project the previous year.
The video of the July Mayor and Town Council meeting is archived on the Community Media Center site and YouTube channel.
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The next mayor and council meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 11. Council members hope to return to an in-person meeting after rearranging town hall for social distancing.