Planners grant first approval for construction of East Ave. Solar, new ‘Bronco Terrace’

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BURRILLVILLE ā€“ The Burrillville Planning Board has approved the preliminary design for a mixed use project that would see two commercial buildings and a 250-kilowatt solar array built on a vacant lot at the intersection of East Avenue and Broncos Highway.

The application by Lincoln-based Andromeda Estate Partners, LLC for, “East Ave Solar and Bronco Terrace,” was approved unanimously by the board on Monday, May 2.

Plans designed by InSite Engineering show a 1.5-acre ground-mounted solar array along with a pair of two-unit commercial buildings constructed on the currently vacant 8.74-acre lot. The solar element of the project would be installed on a portion of the property furthest from the busy intersection, while the commercial buildings would be accessed via a paved driveway from East Avenue.

The preliminary go-ahead marks the first concrete step forward for a project that’s been under consideration in various forms for nearly two years. Developers first submitted plans for a 250-kilowatt solar system in the fall of 2020, later withdrawing the application in March of 2021, saying they hoped to add a 20-unit condominium to the project.

Andromeda has since purchased an adjoining lot from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, but in an informal visit before the board last April, presentation of the condo plan received a tepid response from planners.

The new approved plans eliminate the condo element, and in place envision two 4,980-square-foot buildings with a roughly 40-space parking lot by East Avenue, with space developers say could accommodate offices or a restaurant. Contractors would need to install sewer on the lot, zoned village commercial, along with additional screening on the southern property line to increase buffering from neighboring residential homes.

The solar array, located in the Route 102 Development Management District, would be accessed via a gravel road behind the commercial buildings.

The preliminary approval stipulates that permits must be obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and a traffic study will be required for any uses generating heavy traffic, such as a restaurant.

“The land development is consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan, specifically, Chapter VII Economic Development, Policy VII.1.b, ‘support the use of renewable energy for both commercial and residential interests,’ as it provides an appropriate site for a commercial solar project,” the approval notes.

Planner Ray Goff noted that the developer must still submit the state permits and complete the final approval process.

“After an approval of the final plan, then they can start construction,” Goff said.

The complete preliminary plan can be found here.

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