To the Editor:
In November, Bar Harbor voters will be asked to vote on an amendment to the land use ordinance allowing solar photovoltaic systems as principal use (solar farms). I urge voters to reject it as it has no size limitation and has not been given sufficient thought.
The latest issue of Maine Audubon’s magazine, Habitat, provided an overview of the issues involved, especially as Maine towns are getting surprised by large solar developments spurred by state incentives.
Conservationists have long been recommending solar farms be sited away from farmland and forest land as nature provides us with solutions to the problem of global warming. Farmland acts as a carbon sink and helps provide us with a local food supply. Forests act as a carbon sink, protect our wetlands, streams, wells, moderate locate weather and control runoff.
We are talking here about the possibility of any size parcel of land being stripped of all its trees. Will the topsoil be removed and sold? The amendment has incentives to vegetate below the panels, but will it be maintained with herbicides? What effect would that have on our water, our pollinators? Does anyone care about the loss of wildlife habitat? Would Northeast Creek be affected by a clearcut in its watershed?
Solar farms should be sited over degraded land only, places like gravel pits. Maryknoll in Ossining, N.Y., recently installed solar canopies over the property’s main parking lots, generating energy to power 100-200 local households. Ossining’s solar code includes a floating zone over large portions of land like a parking lot that could be used for solar canopies.
Let’s keep our solar farms local, small scale, and let’s be more creative. Vote No and ask that more thought go into this amendment.