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Committees discuss solar energy

By Staff | Feb 24, 2012

Shepherdstown Planning Commission met for its monthly meeting following an informational discussion of a “Solar Garden Imitative,” as the community determines how to incorporate solar energy in the historic town.

Than Hitt, a local resident who recently became one of the first in Shepherdstown to install solar panels on his property, presided over the meeting as a representative of the local “Sustainable Shepherdstown” steering committee on solar energy.

Hitt said he believes Shepherdstown has an opportunity to be a solar pioneer.

“We have an opportunity to be a leader in the state,” he said.

“It’s pretty obvious that Shepherdstown is the place where it can and should happen first,” he went on to say.

Hitt and Dave Brusch of University Park Solar, a for-profit community solar group, outlined the potential constraints, as well as the potential benefits of developing a solar energy plan for Shepherdstown.

Brusch, who helped found University Park Solar, detailed steps he and other investors took to install solar panels on a local church in their own community.

Brusch explained, that he and other like-minded University Park, Md. residents, decided that investing in a community solar project would garner financial benefits for all involved as well as long-term community and global enhancement

“I have three children. I’m thinking about their future,” he said.

Hitt said he hopes Shepherdstown will consider the solar’s rewards despite the potential setbacks, including town ordinance regulations.

According to Hitt the price for solar panels are going down as their efficiency goes up.

Hits said that investors in a solar energy project could expect to see a 7 percent return on their investment over 20 years.

“This is an opportunity to think with their minds and their hearts,” he said.

In other Planning Commission business, thr group reviewed applications including a request from Diana Suttenfield to approve an informational sign commemorating the historic 1775 “Beeline March” from Shepherdstown to Cambridge, Mass.

Suttenfield called it “one of the most important contributions that Shepherdstown made to the founding of the country.”

Suttenfield’s original request suggested the sign be erected at the corner of German and King streets.

Commissioner Karene Motivans expressed concern about “sign clutter,” and suggested the commission consider further planning with regard to the general use of signage around town.

After discussion regarding the appropriateness of the requested location, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the approval of the design and placement of the sign in front of Town Hall contingent upon Town Council approval.

The Sustainable Shepherdstown steering committee will hold a brainstorming session to continue discussion of a community solar project on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Train Station.

The next Planning Commission meeting will be held Monday, Mar. 19 at Town Hall.