Police & Fire

Dexter council approves commercial solar array moratorium

DEXTER — The Dexter Town Council approved a moratorium on commercial solar arrays, which will be in effect for 180 days starting on May 11, during an April 11 meeting. The full text of the 2-page document is available at https://www.dextermaine.org/town-council-1.

Council Chair Marcia Delaware said the moratorium is needed so the town can properly consider how to write an ordinance on commercial solar arrays, a topic the planning board has been working on for several months. With a moratorium in place, the town could temporarily pause any new solar farm development while more permanent measures, such as land use ordinance amendments, are developed. The moratorium does not pertain to solar panels homeowners or small businesses have in place or are considering, with the arrays being based on size.

“The ordinance doesn’t take effect until 30 days after it’s passed, so in May,” she said about the Saturday, May 11 start date.

Town Manager Trampas King said two permits for solar farms have been taken out in the last few years so these two projects would be grandfathered and not subject to the moratorium. 

In October King said the town should consider a moratorium pertaining to solar farms. He said there is one in development at a Route 94 site and another has been mentioned for a field on Route 7 across from P&L Country Market. King said some residents have also expressed concern about a site on a hill near the Ripley town line, saying if it were to become a solar farm then they would be looking to sell their homes.

Delaware said moratoriums were put in place in the past regarding a transmission line project, and this moratorium was extended four times.

She also suggested having a non-binding referendum on commercial solar arrays be placed on the November ballot to gauge residents’ thoughts.

Councilor Adam Briggs mentioned how recent non-binding referendum questions, such as on marijuana, have indicated which way the council has voted.

Councilor Levi Ladd wondered about how a referendum question on commercial solar arrays could be worded to help determine how the community feels, so this will likely be a topic of future discussion for town officials.

In other business, the council approved a $7.500 contribution from the town’s economic development fund to support the late June Group Mission Trips work camp. Delaware said in the past this amount has been $5,000 but the extra $2,500 would help cover price increases.

Last month Councilor Andrew Bermudez (who is helping organize the event in his position as First Baptist Church of Dexter lead pastor) said more than 80 applications have come in for Group Mission Trips a non-profit, interdenominational Christian volunteer home-repair group — work camp in and around Dexter in late June. He said half of these have been contacted for organizers to learn more and Bermudez said 26 sites could be selected. 

Bermudez abstained from voting on the $7,500 contribution motion.

For most years in the last half decade-plus dozens of teenagers and adults from around the county have spent close to a week in Dexter working on home projects at no cost for area residents who otherwise could not afford to have the needed repairs made. Participants have stayed at the Ridge View Community School, while Group Mission Trips covered expenses such as food and kitchen and custodial staff.

Bermudez said about $20,000 is needed for building materials. “Any money stays within the town, plus the volunteers coming and spending their money,” he said, with supplies purchased from Dexter businesses.

“It’s heartbreaking to read those applications,” Bermudez said, knowing that not all seeking help will receive it.

The council also authorized the Dexter Rail Riders ATV Club to apply for financial assistance under the provisions of the Bureau of Parks and Lands for ATV trail maintenance.

“In case you folks dont’ know we have a really, really good ATV club,” King said. 

He mentioned a year ago the Dexter Rail Riders ATV Club received $42,000 with the financial assistance coming in the form of an 80 percent grant and 20 percent in-kind contribution as trail work can go toward the in-kind contribution.

The current application will be for $105,000.

“They just want ATVs accessible in town as much as possible,” King said.

“They do a lot of work, they work really, really hard and they are an asset to the community,” he said. “They work to keep the trails open.”

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