I love the idea of renewable energy, whether it be solar, wind, geothermal, and the rest. I pride myself on being mindful and respecting the resources available to me, my property, and the land in my close proximity. But when I read a letter from my municipal zoning board of adjustment notifying me that a privately owned solar facility is requesting variances to allow a 54 acre, 10-mega-watt solar farm directly across the street form my house, I knew I had some thinking to do.
When I purchased my property and house, what drew me to it most was the expansive and open feel to the entire dead-end street that it rests on. The (RO) Residential Open Space District is exactly what I was looking for, and I purchased with that in mind. I made a choice. By disregarding the current zoning and bylaws, my choice would be taken away. A change to the variances surrounding me will fundamentally shift my experience with the land and the property I fell in love with. I cherish where I live and do not want to leave. Ironically though, if I did want to up and leave to find a new place, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who wants to live within a commercial/industrial setting, with 54 acres of solar panels as the view from their front porch. The value of the surrounding properties (financial, emotional, intrinsic, etc.) will certainly be reduced because of this project.
The variance that concerns lot coverage within a Residential Open area specifies no more than a 10% coverage of the lot…this is for good reason. If we consider the entire drip edge of the solar panels, that 10% coverage is far exceeded. And by the way…we must consider the entire drip edge. With this in mind, the natural sunlight will not be able to reach the ground underneath the panels. The rain that falls won’t find a natural and even broadcast to the land…it will now be directed to the lowest slope of each panel, resulting in erosion of the land…land that is, by the way, already considered a flood plain for the Merrimack River. Directly across the street from my house, on the proposed land, there is a 10-15 foot drop into the flood plain. The idea of a commercial installation of solar panels, regardless of how green the resulting energy remains, is undermining the natural shaping and shifting our land and waterways (in accordance with each other) have been slowly making over thousands of years. Let us not take this lightly.
Concord, NH is so unique…in that it offers an attractive and vibrant downtown setting in balance with beautiful, open and expansive rural outskirts. Many Concord citizens have been stunned visiting my property, stating, ‘I never knew this was in Concord. This land is amazing! It’s so quiet and natural here.’ An unattractive, industrial eyesore, changes the entire face of the landscape on this pastoral, agricultural, and residential road. Therefore, the view and perspective of Concord citizens changes. We won’t be happy with what we see, and conditionally, how we treat our town…how we speak to others about it.
I have a 4 year old daughter…Matilda. She is everything to me. She and I use our quiet, dead-end road daily…to pull sleds on, ride bikes, and walk the dog. Our natural behaviors such as these will unfortunately change with such a drastic change to our setting. More importantly, as our house sits close to the road, we would be spending a majority of our day within 100 feet of this 10-megawatt solar farm. I can not allow my daughter to be exposed to the electromagnetic energy surrounding a massive industrial installation like this. On top of that, the radiation generated by the conversion of energy is not something I’m willing to let us be so close to. There have not been long term studies and research done related to humans living in such close proximity to such immense and concentrated solar energy systems like this. I won’t be able to sleep at night, knowing I allowed Matilda (a 4 year old, still in the early stages of development) and I to be the guinea pigs of such exposure. ‘Matilda? This is Dad telling you I love you more than anything. I want nothing but good health and opportunities for you. And I’m doing my best to allow for that…and protect us from this project!’ Should I plan on recording our day-to-day health, writing down any symptoms that we notice in the future, and wonder if they’re related to concentrated energy fields in close proximity to our home? No, as a Concord resident and taxpayer, no…as a mindful father…no, I shouldn’t have to worry about that. I truly hope you board members, you…that will be deciding the future of this case…will try to grasp onto, and understand the scope of what I just said.
As I stated at the onset, I believe in green energy. This municipality should be considering long-term, sustainable ways to make progress within our town, and allow for the safest and most fulfilling civic engagement and appreciation possible. This proposed case…this enormous and imposing, 54 acre, 10-megawatt, industrial installation falls far short of that delineation.
Thank you for your consideration!