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Green energy projects not always ‘green,’ as in Sanbornton

To The Daily Sun,

This letter will serve to notify the residents of Sanbornton and surrounding communities about the current status of the proposed "solar farm" to be located off of Tower Hill Road in Sanbornton.  

In August 2017, a firm named "N.H. Solar Garden" approached the Sanbornton selectmen with a proposed 12 MegaWatt (MW) solar farm to be located in a residential area off of Tower Hill Road and Giunta Way. N.H. Solar Garden was requesting a "payment in lieu of taxes" for the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) program in the amount of $60,000 per year based upon the proposed revenue to be generated by the 25 MW solar farm. The company did not provide any site plans or designs at the meeting. The selectmen did approve the PILOT program, as they considered it a benefit overall to the town. The average taxpayer in the town would receive about a $20‐$25 property tax reduction under the plan.

In December 2017, a new solar firm, "Clean Energy Cooperative" (CEC) approached the Planning Board with a conceptual design for the project.  Apparently, N.H. Solar Garden turned the project over to CEC.  The conceptual design called for only a 5 MW system to be installed with a maximum potential of 12 MW in the future.  This reduced design would also reduce the revenue  to the town to 1/5th of what was agreed to by the pilot study.  Many residents at the meeting asked why the town is still considering the proposal as the town will be losing money based upon that agreement and the taxpayers would be getting $5 or less in a reduction of property taxes.

The selectmen have not addressed this concern to date. At the Planning Board meeting, the conceptual design that was proposed showed five distinct locations on the 100+ acre parcel.  Four in fields, two of which will overlook the Sanbornton Elementary school and one along Range Road (the snowmobile trail). The Range Road parcel is mostly wooded land and will require clear cutting (not so green after all). The fields and woodlands fall into three zoned areas: Agricultural, Forest Conservation, and Historical Districts.  The project will also require three‐phase power that requires new power poles that would run from Tower Hill Road south to Route 132 to Tilton, right through the center of the Sanbornton Historic District.

The current power poles are roughly 18 feet tall; the new poles would be 45‐50 feet tall and are dependent on what Eversource deems necessary.  At that meeting, it was brought up that Eversource has an existing right of way for its lines and can upgrade the lines and poles as needed.  CEC has no say on the size or location of the poles.  At that meeting, CEC also stated that since this project abuts several residential homes, a minimum 125-foot buffer would be instituted from the property lines to give proper screening for those abutting properties.

In February 2018, approached the Zoning Board of Appeals to request variances for the proposed solar field parcels (rezoning them to commercial land), CEC presented a new conceptual drawing showing only a 35- to 80-foot buffer from the abutting properties in contradiction to the plan they laid out at the Planning Board meeting in December 2017. For the 40‐acre (Lot 14) parcel, CEC is proposing to run line from Range Road west to Tower Hill Road then south to Route 132 or running from Lot 14 to a private driveway right‐of‐way (ROW) to Tower Hill Road.  The ownership and use of that ROW is contested as the land owner for the solar farm project was granted ingress/egress only in 1987 by the land owner of
Lot 15, for which the ROW was constructed in 1970.  No other ROW access is legally deeded to the solar farm land owner to the private driveway to access lot 14 or any other lot, other that the his current residence on lot 15.1.  The ZBA has not ruled on the variance and will take up the item in the March 27 meeting.

In conclusion, the plans for this project have been strongly opposed by the residents along Tower Hill Road and many in the town. There is no financial benefit to the town as the solar firm keeps changing and modifying plans.  The need to solar energy should not outweigh the need for green space and forest lands. Cutting trees for creating green energy is that same as bulldozing a meadow for a Walmart. Placing 10,000 solar panels per acre, on the proposed 35 acres they are looking at for this project and fencing the lots will restrict wildlife usage of the area and create a monotypic habitat under the panels, which has no wildlife value (Green energy is not always green). Additionally, the effect on the residences and property values will likely be detrimental.

The Planning Board has come up with an ordinance to regulate these types of projects.That ordinance will be voted on during the March elections. This letter should not only serve as an informational memo to the Sanbornton town residents but also a warning to other communities to get regulations in place before these types of projects start to overwhelm the towns.

Mark Larocque

  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Letters
  • Hits: 28

Florida shooter should have been taken into custody using the Baker Act

To The Daily Sun,

For about 40 years before becoming a permanent resident of Gilford, I lived and practiced law in the Miami area, so I have some significant familiarity with Florida law.

The recent Parkland school shooting has produced a lot of discussion about how and why it happened and how a similar event in the future could be prevented. However, much of the discussion and calls for “action” have missed many important facts, distinct from the emotions of the moment.

Although some may argue that law enforcement cannot do anything about someone until they become violent, that is simply not the case in Florida, which has a longstanding law called the “Baker Act,” which allows for the involuntary temporary confinement and evaluation of someone who is reasonably believed to have a potential to harm themselves or others. This procedure is used with some degree of regularity and most law enforcement and EMT personnel in Florida are very familiar with it. So, the natural question is: Why was this not used with the Parkland shooter before he acted out his murderous intentions?

Would not his post on social media indicating his intention to become a school shooter fall into a precise category for which the Baker Act was designed?

It also pays to ask why law enforcement and social media did not act against the shooter before he acted. It is hard to believe that the FBI could not have obtained the shooter’s IP address, either from YouTube (where he posted) or via the NSA, which would have led them to his home address from which the postings were originated. Similarly, when the shooter legally purchased his weapons and filled out the federal ATF forms to apply for “clearance” to make his purchases, could not the FBI query the database of the ATF against the name revealed by the IP address to see if the poster was taking actual steps to carry out his murderous rage?

And how about the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which admits that it was called to the shooter’s home many times for disturbances? If the FBI had coordinated with them about the threats being made, the BSO could have taken steps under the Baker Act to take the shooter off the street, and it is not unusual for a judge hearing a Baker Act matter to require the confiscation of all the weapons of a person determined to be potentially harmful to himself or others.

The FBI admits that it “dropped the ball” in this case. Really? Is that what happened? Remember this is the federal agency, once thought of as the premier law enforcement agency in our country, that ignored warnings from its agents in Arizona to the effect that it seemed strange that persons from Arab countries were taking flight lessons that involved training for takeoffs but no training for landings. So, I guess the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center towers in New York was just another case of having “dropped the ball!”

And how about YouTube and other social media sites? Stories have recently appeared that many social media sites have been censoring posts that they deem politically incorrect, especially if they do not comport with their left-leaning world view. I assume that their allocation of personnel to do those reviews and censoring makes them unable to review, note and act upon potentially deadly threatening posts. Like by calling the FBI?

Finally, there have arisen the usual calls for more gun control laws, but none short of total confiscation (which will not happen in or country as long as there is a Second Amendment) would have prevented the Parkland shooting. If no guns were available, persons with a desire to kill others will always find a way and a weapon, even if the weapon is not a gun.

So, examining other recent murderous rampages, I suggest the following: We should ban all motor vehicles because of all the people killed by drunk drivers and by terrorists driving into crowds (which the Parkland shooter could have done in front of this school in lieu of shooting, just like in Nice, France). We should also ban all sharp knives because of various people killed or maimed by knife attacks around the world. And we should also ban machetes since they seem to be the weapon of choice for the notorious MS-13 gang members from El Salvador who have illegally entered our country and preyed upon many of our people, including some of their own fellow countrymen.

The foregoing suggestions will lead to better health and safety for all of us. We will have to walk more, which is good for your health. We will have to cut sugar cane and brush, and do food prep, with rounded-tip baby scissors, but is that really too much to ask for in the name of public safety?

If those suggestions are unpalatable in a free country such as ours, should we not ask whether if the shooter had been taken into custody under the Baker Act and properly evaluated for his mental condition(s), could not the entire shooting incident have been prevented?

It is hard to believe that the FBI and the Broward Sheriff’s Office are unfamiliar with Florida’s Baker Act and how it can be used to protect innocent lives. If they had just used the tools they already possess, 17 people would not be dead.

Norman Silber
Member of the N.H. House of Representatives
Belknap County District 2-Gilford & Meredith


  • Written by Edward Engler
  • Category: Letters
  • Hits: 24