RI Zoning News – Cranston Solar Farm
A very interesting RI zoning issue has popped up in Cranston. A British company has proposed to construct a solar farm at Hope Farms located in Western Cranston. The solar farm would be the largest of its kind in Rhode Island. The proposal has raised a number of unique zoning issues.
RES America Development is currently seeking to construct a ten (10) megawatt solar farm in Western Cranston. RES, a British company with a base of operations in Colorado, proposed to lease the land from the current owners. Prior to the solar farm proposal, the landowners had been in discussions with the City and the State regarding a potential open space agreement. In addition, the landowners already had approval for a multi-lot subdivision on the farm property. Both of those plans apparently folded once RES entered the picture. In light of that change, the nature of the arguments, both for and against the project shifted.
For example, the ten million dollar project raised an interesting conundrum for certain environmentalists. On its face it appears solar power would seem to be viable renewable alternative energy source. However, environmentalists have denounced the proposal because it would decrease open space and limit agricultural land.
At this point, the Planning Commission has approved the Master Plan and preliminary plan for the proposal. The project now must head to further staff review and another final commission vote.
The project exemplifies the complexity involved in RI zoning matters. Master plan approval, comprehensive plan issues, open space/agricultural concerns, and major land development approvals are just a few of the issues the applicant must address. Attorney John Bolton has been navigating the wilds of Western Cranston and the planning process on behalf of RES.
For further detail and information please check out the Providence Journal for a comprehensive timeline of the proposal:
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