Old Lyme residents approve pump station lease, solar proposal

Old Lyme — Voters at a town meeting Monday overwhelmingly approved a land lease for a pump station for three private beach associations and also supported, by majority vote, a proposal for a potential solar farm at the former landfill.

More than 300 residents attended the meeting in the auditorium of Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

Under the lease agreement, the Miami Beach Association, Old Lyme Shores Beach Association and Old Colony Beach Club Association will pay the town an annual rent to use a portion of the town's land at 72 Portland Ave., part of the town's parking lot at Sound View, for the installation of a pump station and the associated equipment and force main. The three private beach associations are planning a sewer project to send wastewater to be treated at the New London sewer plant.

The associations would pay the town $10,000 annually for 20 years, and then $1 annually after the 20-year period. The lease's initial term is 40 years, with seven successive 20-year options. A copy of the proposed lease is available at bit.ly/OLWPCApump.

The leased area will include the footprint of the pump station, an access around the perimeter of the pump station, a connectivity area for pipes, and an access area for operations and maintenance, according to the presentation by First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsndyer.

Reemsnyder said the lease also contains language that would allow the town to later connect Sound View and possibly the Hawk’s Nest neighborhood.

"This would eliminate the need for another, separate pump station to serve those areas, as studies show that one pump station serving all of those areas would be sufficient and prudent," according to the presentation.

The lease does not concern public restrooms at Sound View, but Reemsnyder said the town intends to use the rent from the pump station lease toward a project to build restrooms at Sound View.

She said the Board of Selectmen have discussed bathrooms at Sound View, and she believes that one building could accommodate both the potential bathrooms and the portion of the planned pump station that needs to be housed indoors.

The solar proposal that residents also approved allows the Board of Selectmen to negotiate a Memorandum of Agreement and then a lease with a solar energy company that would install solar panels on "some or all of the capped portion" of the former landfill at 109 Four Mile River Road. The project also has to go to Eversource as an application through the Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit program, Reemsnyder said.

Reemsnyder said the energy company has not yet been selected, but the town has received three proposals from energy companies, one of which did not work out.

According to Monday's presentation, the solar panels would generate energy for the electric grid. The town has received offers that would pay an annual $10,000 to $20,000 for the lease, which would be up for 25 years. The company "would be responsible for installation, maintenance of panels and the land beneath the panels, (and) removal at end of lease," according to the presentation.

Several residents raised questions, such as if there are any potential impacts from the solar farm, such as water run-off, while a couple of residents said they believed the town should be getting a better deal.

In response to questions, Reemsnyder said the lease the town would sign would stipulate that the company would have to address any environmental concerns and that the Board of Selectmen would do their due diligence when it reviews the lease. 

k.drelich@theday.com

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