Solar panels causing controversy in Wilbraham - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Solar panels causing controversy in Wilbraham

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

There's a plan to bring solar panels to the town of Wilbraham that was devastated by the June 2011 tornado.

Neighbors said that they understand the benefit of having solar panels, in town but there is still come controversy and it's a topic of a town planning board meeting Wednesday.

Robert Williams has lived in the area of Tinkham Road for some time now.  He can see the area where the solar panels will be built from his window.

"As long as it's not an eyesore and doesn't take up too much space," Williams said.

Six acres of land will be used for the 650,000 watt system, which will be built near Rochford and Scenic Drives.  Over 70 percent of the land will have solar panels.

Williams said he understands the benefits of have the system.  "Having solar panels is a benefit to society.  It's a natural energy," he added.

These panels coming to the area after the 2011 tornado tore through the area of Tinkham Road in Wilbraham and left vegetation destroyed throughout the area.

"Most of the trees were demolished, the whole landscape has changed so it makes it much easier to use that area because it's pretty much demolished. here's no more trees left so it's a good place to have it," said Williams.

Jeff Smith, chairman of Wilbraham's planning board, understands residents not wanting to see solar panels in their backyard, but emphasized that the town cannot say no to the developer who wants to build solar panels because of state laws.

"We can only reasonably regulate how it's installed and we can try to regulate how it impacts the surrounding residents, but we can't say no," Smith added.

 Two years ago, the town passed a local law restricting how solar panels can be installed.

At tonight's meeting, contractors will be sharing their plans on what they hope to do when they build these solar panels.

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