Solar Operation Proposed on Manchaug Pond Watershed

Posted April 8, 2018.

Parcels at 44 Old Mill and 226 Putnam Hill Roads, Sutton

A private land owner is planning a large industrial-scale solar array for the hill north of Manchaug Pond within the watershed. If allowed, the two parcels to be cleared and developed stretch from 44 Old Mill Road to 226 Putnam Hill Road encompassing a large portion of currently forest land and the smaller corn field at Putnam Hill and Lackey Roads. Specifically the proposal involves an amendment to the Town’s Zoning Bylaws to be voted on at the May 14th town meeting which reads: Amendment 5.  “Add 75+ acres at 226 Putnam Hill Road and 13+ acres at 44 Old Mill Road to the Solar Photovoltaic Overlay District (SPOD) where large ground mounted solar systems over 250 kw are allowed.

Monday, April 9, 2018, beginning at 7:10 p.m. a public hearing by the Sutton Planning Board on the 3rd floor of the Sutton Town Hall, 4 Uxbridge Road, Sutton will offer an opportunity to learn more about the project as part of 7 amendments under consideration which look to allow and/or regulate marijuana dispensaries and the addition of three new commercial, industrial solar operations with a combined 239 acres in Sutton.

226 Putnam Hill Road north of Manchaug Pond

The project would most likely involve the loss of the agricultural land and part of the watershed wildlife corridor with the cutting of forest from the 75+ acre Putnam Hill Road field/wood lot through the wooded 13+ acre parcel connecting to Old Mill Road just north of Manchaug and Aldrich Mill Ponds to install “large ground mounted solar systems.”  As we know, human activities and land uses within a watershed directly effect the water quality of our water resources –  wetlands, streams, ponds and lakes and public and private wells. Land in a natural, forested state offers optimum conditions for clean water and little to no invasives whereas the activities and just plain living by each of us bring roads, homes, and landscapes where run-off from impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways and roads can cause erosion and sedimentation; and where septic systems, pets and livestock, gardens, fields, lawns, and landscapes can bring animal wastes, bacteria, fertilizers, and pesticides directly as non-point sources of pollution. (Check out our Manchaug Pond Care Guide to do your part!)  Sutton Conservation Commission would likely be involved in the construction process in order to protect wetland/stream areas on the property and keep runoff from Manchaug Pond and smaller Aldrich Mill Pond.  Topography of the hillside notes an elevation of 740′ at Putnam Hill Road sloping some 200 feet down to the lake’s 540’. The Manchaug Pond Foundation has already worked to addressed the heavy volume of runoff from this hillside with the installation of a catch basin, sediment traps and swale at three sites on Manchaug Road securing engineering and monies through two EPA/DEP Non-point Source Pollution grants with the Town of Sutton cooperating.

Topographical/contour map of area north of Manchaug Pond

Manchaug Pond Foundation
 With the potential for negative impacts from construction projects and human activity to the water quality of Manchaug and Aldrich Mill Ponds a strong reality, the property owner, solar company and our town boards must insist on plans and structures which protect our water resources. Such things as seeding exposed soils to prevent erosion, vegetative buffers and swales to capture run-off from impervious surfaces, maintenance of a natural landscaped border along property lines to maintain the natural viewshed from the lake and the scenic, rural character of the Manchaug watershed, and a future de-commissioning plan to remove all structures if/when the solar facility is phased out to eliminate potential future pollutants.
 Mark you calendar to be involved in the process: April 9th and May 14th.  Non-residents who are interested can also attend but will be required at town meeting to sit in a designated section to the side.
Visit the Manchaug Pond Foundation website for information on how you can protect our water resources in your landscape, events listing, and to contact us,  join and support our efforts together.

Manchaug Pond Foundation