Hollis, please vote no on Amendment 1

Tuesday, March 14 is town Election Day. The ballot has eight amendments to the Hollis Zoning Ordinance. Your vote on these amendments set the rules on how and what you and your neighbors can do on your property. The first amendment is a reduction in the maximum size of a solar system from 1 acre to ½ acre. The explanation given is simply “The amendment will limit the size of ground mounted solar systems,” which is obvious, but doesn’t explain the impact. The reason the Hollis Planning Board wants to limit the size of a solar farm from the minutes of the Dec. 20, 2016, meeting boils down to the belief that a solar farm would impact the rural character of Hollis. However, exactly the opposite is true. I, and several other members of the public, tried to explain this to the planning board at the meeting, but they voted 5:2 to put this amendment to the voters.

What is a solar farm and how would it impact the rural character of Hollis? A solar farm is just that – a farm that happens to be farming electricity. A solar farm produces clean greenhouse gas free electricity in back lots that are not visible from the road. Residents whose roof is not suitable for a rooftop system can participate in the solar farm thru group net metering. Hollis is an “active farming community” and yet we are preventing one of the most recent sources of cash for farmers here in our rural community. The best part of a solar farm is that it produces NO NOISE, generates NO ODORS, has NO MOVING parts and does not result in impervious surfaces like paved roads. A solar farm is very similar to a meadow. A solar farm an ideal neighbor compared to building more “McMansions.” A solar farm keeps our hard-earned money here in New Hampshire instead of shipping dollars all over the world purchasing dirty carbon based fuels.

The Hollis Zoning Ordinance – section XXIV: solar energy systems – states, “To facilitate the State and National goals of developing clean, safe, renewable energy.” The intent of the ordinance is to facilitate developing renewable energy, whereas this amendment does exactly the opposite and places limits clean solar power. The exiting ordinance requires the solar farm to be screened and to meet the requirements of the rural character preservation ordinance (Section XV). Thus, the existing zoning already fully protects the rural character of Hollis. Limiting the size of a solar farm means there will be MORE rooftop systems that are visible from the road. Residents will have to install rooftop systems instead of relying on their neighbors solar farm. If you like the rural character of Hollis and don’t like government telling you what to do on your land, then please VOTE NO on Amendment 1.

Eric Ryherd