By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The Planning Board last week granted master plan approval to a proposed rooftop solar installation on the former Bostitch building that sits above South County Trail on Briggs Drive.
The project, by NuGen Capital, requires a special use permit from the Zoning Board before it would come back to the Planning Board for preliminary approval.
The building was built in the early 1960s as a manufacturing plant for Stanley Bostitch, known for its staplers among other products. The company was eventually sold to Black & Decker, which closed it in 2012. Today, Toray Plastics and Alex & Ani rent parts of the sprawling facility.
According to the developer, the panels would sit off the roof about 2 ½ to 3 feet and would face south, in lines of short rows. Construction would take three to four months. NuGen has signed a 25-year lease.
Some residents of Ezechiel Carre Drive whose properties abut the industrial property asked about additional lighting or glare from the project. They said lighting at the property had increased in recent years.
NuGen representative Aaron Rust said they would not be adding any lighting and that there had been no glare or noise issues at other sites. He did say this property is closer to a residential neighborhood than others NuGen has done.
Town Solicitor Andy Tietz said the Planning Board had the power to impose conditions on the project but suggested waiting until preliminary plan stage, after the project got past the Zoning Board.
“Regardless of who the applicant is, I think you do have the power to impose those conditions, within limits,” said Tietz.
“I disagree that we are responsible for any existing lighting but my client is willing to make something happen,” said NuGen’s lawyer, William Landry.
The Zoning Board will take up NuGen’s request for a special use permit April 23.
Well, solar power is sure to be a staple of the future.
The town of East Greenwich (citizens and town leaders) should embrace this project. Existing rooftops and parking lots are where large scales solar projects should be encouraged, not on fertile agricultural lands or forested acres. Town officials should not use this project to address unrelated issues mentioned in the article pertaining to neighbor complaints of increased lights from the business. East Greenwich should be proud to demonstrate a wise placement of solar panels and be grateful that unlike Cranston and other communities, this project will be atop an existing structure and nor result in the loss of open space which benefits the public in so many ways that it should not be sacrificed for renewable energy projects. Rhode Island should incentivize more rooftop solar on both commercial and residential properties and end the foolish destruction of our forests and farmlands.
This is a perfect location. Roof tops , not Beagle Clubs, or forest areas. Not knocking down trees, but using exiting roof top acreage to better our energy situation. Go forth and build solar panels, on this vast rooftop.