The School Committee has voted to withdraw a Town Meeting warrant article that would test the viability of solar farm facilities on Lovejoy Road behind Sanborn Elementary School.
For School Committee Chairwoman Annie Gilbert, there was an "understandable lack of comfort" about the article voiced at recent meetings.
"Should this warrant article pass, even though ultimately any potential solar project would come back to both the School Committee and selectmen for a vote, it wouldn't come back to the voters at Town Meeting," said Gilbert.
The ideal situation for solar farms at Sanborn Elementary School land, according to Gilbert, would include a complete process that would bring proposals, interested developers and even a pending lease agreement to Town Meeting.
"We'd be sort of flipping the process from what we've originally been considering," said Gilbert. "It's best for everybody from a process standpoint to have whatever it involves, if anything, come back to the town rather than us making a stand now."
In agreement, School Committee vice-chairwoman Paula Colby-Clements said it bothered her "when I realized that us moving forward on the warrant article took it out of everybody's hands and only brought it back before us."
Discussions around the article have faced opposition at recent meetings, particularly from residents living on or near Lovejoy Road. Others have identified the need to keep the property open for school use only, something School Committee member David Birnbach said he understood from prior School Committee experience involving a proposal to use then-open school land for an ice hockey rink.
"There was a big discussion back [in the '80s] about this property in West Andover. Andover Schools had so much land then, the projection experts felt we'd never need to use that property in West Andover," said Birnbach. "That became a very big event, and it was exactly like this. Guess what property that turned out to be? Wood Hill [Middle School]."
The article was submitted by the School Committee, Andover Green Advisory Board, Plant & Facilities Department and Planning Director Paul Materazzo. The School Committee's vote to remove it makes it so it won't even appear on the warrant, according to Gilbert.
Materazzo said he supported the School Committee's decision. "At the end of the day, it's their property," he said. "We were working to tease out the opportunities that the land could represent."
A second article still exists on the warrant for solar facilties on Tewksbury Street. That article is expected to move forward as written.
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