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Waltham Neighbors for Safe Solar shares concerns about proposed solar plant

On Dec. 19 an email was sent out to the Waltham Group mailing list, forwarded by the Department of Student Engagement’s Program Specialist, Francesca Panorese. The email was originally sent by the local grassroots organization Waltham Neighbors for Safe Solar (WNSS). The organization wrote in the email to Waltham Group members that they are concerned about the proposed solar power plant that is planned to be built in Waltham, Lexington and Lincoln and that would also affect Cambridge residents due to its proximity to their water reservoir. 

According to the email and the organization’s website, the solar plant would require the cutting of approximately 800 trees and therefore displacing the animals residing in the forest and conservation land that would be affected. Additionally, the organization explains in the email how “solar power plants have special protection from local zoning laws” citing the Dover Amendment, meaning they cannot “be stopped on the grounds of wildlife/nature conservation.” 

The email continues, mentioning how the affected neighborhoods are in support of safe solar, and that “this [solar farm] is far from safe as currently planned.” Waltham Neighbors for Safe Solar explain how Lexington law allows for restrictions if it is necessary for “public health, safety and welfare,” but Lexington residents do not live close enough to be able to impact the proposed solar farm via this law.  

On their website, Waltham Neighbors for Safe Solar outline how the plant could impact the environment and how it could be unsafe for residents as it is currently planned.  The group explains that the displacement of animals from the area would be unsafe for the neighboring communities. Additionally, the organization believes there are potential health risks involved with the implementation of the plant due to its proximity to homes and “electromagnetic field exposure health problems.” WNSS also adds the city of Cambridge’s concerns to its argument, explaining how the project could contaminate the drinking water reservoir used by Cambridge. According to the city’s response to the Lexington planning board, Cambridge “strongly opposes” the solar plant. Further, WNSS explains that the construction of such a project would be unsafe for children who live in the area and could cause damage to the foundations of nearby homes. 

Waltham Neighbors for Safe Solar have written out proposed resolutions to this that would make the building of the plant safe while still allowing the independent developer to utilize solar. Some of their hopes include a 200-foot setback of where the plant would be built, a commitment by the developer to keep the reservoir water uncontaminated and more care for the environmental impact the solar plant would have and safe construction guidelines. The organization has created a Change.org petition that currently has over 200 signatures and reached out to the Waltham Group to share their concerns with the Waltham-Brandeis community. 

 

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