So­lar farm de­vel­oper with­draws ap­pli­ca­tion, mulls plan changes

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By DO­RIAN MITCHELL dmitchell@thekent­coun­tynews.com

— An­other pro­posed so­lar en­ergy farm in Kent County has been halted, but not nec­es­sar­ily for good.

In a let­ter to the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers dated Sept. 27, Ur­ban Grid Pres­i­dent Frank Depew wrote that the Cer­tifi­cate of Pub­lic Con­ve­nience and Ne­ces­sity ap­pli­ca­tion with the Mary­land Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion for the pro­posed Morgnec Road So­lar LLC pro­ject has been with­drawn as the com­pany con­sid­ers ad­di­tional changes to the plans.

An ap­pli­ca­tion was sub­mit­ted to the PSC last win­ter. The plan was to build a 57.04-megawatt so­lar ar­ray on 255 acres of land, known as the Clark Farm. The pro­posed site is lo­cated along Morgnec Road, just out­side the Chestertown lim­its.

The pro­ject re­ceived op­po­si­tion from Kent Con­ser­va­tion and Preser­va­tion Al­liance, the Town of Chestertown, the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers and oth­ers.

Their con­cerns were that the pro­posed site is an area of po­ten­tial growth, that the pro­ject did not sup­port lo­cal zon­ing and that hav­ing a so­lar farm — as Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino put it — would be “a neg­a­tive to us as a com­mu­nity.”

Depew wrote that after see­ing the op­po­si­tion, Ur­ban Grid met with of­fi­cials and or­ga­ni­za­tions — like the Kent al­liance and the East­ern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy — to “gain sup­port and in­cor­po­rate lo­cal in­put into the de­sign.”

He wrote that the pro­ject’s new plan in­cor­po­rated ideas like a shel­tered pic­nic area, a chil­dren’s play­ground, an ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity, var­i­ous for­est na­ture trails and a “com­mu­nity so­lar por­tion” of the pro­ject.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I un­der­stand that op­po­si­tion re­mains to the so­lar pro­ject as

pro­posed,” Depew wrote. “Rather than present the pro­ject and the ameni­ties to the com­mu­nity now, in an at­tempt to gain lo­cal sup­port, we are pulling our CPCN ap­pli­ca­tion to pro­vide us and the com­mu­nity suf­fi­cient time to re-eval­u­ate the pro­ject and ameni­ties we can of­fer.”

He wrote that though Ur­ban Grid is op­ti­mistic about the de­vel­op­ment of Morgnec Road So­lar LLC, it rec­og­nizes that “sig­nif­i­cant” changes need to be made to the de­sign.

“In tak­ing a pause, we hope to work col­lab­o­ra­tively on re­fin­ing our pro­posal so that it bet­ter ac­counts for a pro­ject and as­so­ci­ated ameni­ties that are ac­cept­able to the Town and County,” Depew wrote.

Com­mis­sioner Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Pick­rum men­tioned Ur­ban Grid’s de­ci­sion at the Kent County Com­mis­sion­ers’ meet­ing Tued­say. There were no com­ments from the com­mis­sion­ers or the pub­lic.

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