Eric Bittman, Tina Barsby, Mary Hoyer: Question solar facility in Amherst Woods neighborhood
To the editor:
People living near Cushman village are understandably worried about plans to construct student housing that is likely to disrupt and congest their part of town. Folks who live near the university are concerned about degradation of their neighborhood as single-family homes are rented to rowdy students. Yet there has been little discussion about the plan to place an industrial scale, 62-acre solar facility in Amherst Woods despite its disruptive effect on our neighborhood, its impact on our property values and environmental concerns. In the interests of consistency and fairness, it is time to re-examine the plan to construct this facility.
The closed landfill was neither lined nor adequately capped. No other such sites upon which solar arrays are planned or have been installed have a substandard cap, and certainly none of them is sited in a residential neighborhood. The economic model on which the lease arrangement was based never received adequate examination, and makes even less sense two years after Town Meeting’s vote. Many Amherst Woods residents enjoy this meadow as a place to walk and appreciate the views of the Holyoke range. We support solar power, but wonder why it should fall upon one neighborhood to sacrifice essentially all of its open space to achieve marginal savings for the town. Rather than installing large facilities where they are disruptive and inappropriate in order to enrich large contractors and utilities, shouldn’t we develop tax incentives to encourage homeowners to install rooftop solar panels?
The Gazette published an editorial on Feb. 28 supporting residents of Hatfield who are understandably upset about the approval of plans to develop a 35-acre solar farm that will adversely affect farmland and lower property values in a residential neighborhood. Why have we not seen comparable consideration of the Amherst Woods project in light of its greater impact and environmental concerns? Why is it that those who live elsewhere in Amherst condemn efforts to preserve any individual neighborhood as “NIMBY,” only to protest when their own area is threatened?
Tina Barsby, Mary Hoyer
Amherst Woods residents