Solar project key to Nasonville redevelopment plan moves forward

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BURRILLVILLE – A proposal to build a 2.71-megawatt solar array on a vacant property adjacent to Western Hotel & Pizza has received preliminary approval from the Burrillville Planning Board, and is now moving forward as part of the Nasonville Redevelopment Plan adopted by the Town Council in April.

Douglas Pike Solar received the unanimous initial recommendation from planners in June, and has also secured an extension on a special use permit and zoning variance through September of 2022. The Boston-based company aims to install ground-mounted panels on 6.9 acres, or 17 percent of a 40-acre lot at 0 Walling Road.

On the remaining acreage, town planners envision the “Nasonville Contemporary Co-living Housing Development,” a series of 80-100 residential lots of as small as 12,000 square feet.

The property is currently owned by Joseph & Maryann Mantia of Warwick and located in a village commercial district. Planners noted that the solar project is consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and, “will have no significant environmental impacts.”

The solar array would be partially situated on former gravel pit, and Zoning Board approval came with the condition that distribution lines will be underground with the exception of the National Grid connection. Planners additionally noted that tree clearing should be kept to a minimum.

The board also set a decommissioning bond of $90,000 to take down the array, to be built by the intersection of Victory Highway and Douglas Pike, in 25 years. It will be accessible from Douglas Pike, and the board stipulated that final plans include a wetlands permit from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and road access approval from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

The approval noted that the town planner or board may decide more buffer is also required.

The solar company was granted a special use permit and variance by the Zoning Board last August, and applied for a one year extension following the June 7 planning decision. An extension through Sept. 9, 2022 was approved by zoners in an unanimous vote June 8 and sent to an attorney acting on behalf of the applicant Jennifer Cervanka of Providence-based firm Cervanka, Green & Ducharme.

The project is just one element of a much larger, long-term redevelopment plan for the village adopted by the Town Council in April. A vision laid out by the Burrillville Redevelopment Agency, the 68-page document outlines plans to rebuild the bridges, add water and sewer, create more walkable streets, and add trails for walking and biking in Nasonville, along with the goal of encouraging private development of housing and other mixed use projects.

The solar company must now complete the master plan approval process.

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