The same landowner owns an adjoining 187 acres in Easton. NextSun Energy, the company proposing the solar farm, made some preliminary inquiries months ago but has not filed an application with either Easton Planning or Conservation. NextSun Energy has stated at the Norton public hearings that that they are not considering expanding the solar farm into Easton.
Pursuant to the state zoning law, Chapter 40A, no local zoning ordinance or by-law shall prohibit or unreasonably regulate the installation of solar energy systems or the building of structures that facililate the collection of solar energy, except where necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
A wetland application can be submitted to Conservation for solar panels on a property in active agricultural use, and will be reviewed for consistency with the state wetland law and the Easton wetland bylaw. At a minimum, the proposal needs to prove it is consistent with the DEP-issued Guidance on Agriculture and Solar Energy Under the Wetlands Protection Act, the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program and the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program (225 CMR 20.00) Guideline Smart Land Use and Siting Guideline, and the Guideline Regarding the Definition of Agricultural Solar Tariff Generation Units, Effective Date: April 26, 2018. The project would also need to meet all standards uner the local wetlands bylaw, including requesting a waiver of the higher standards for activity within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.