An initial site plan for a proposed solar farm on Fort Hill Road in Gorham. Palmer Moore / Nexamp

GORHAM — A 30-acre solar farm proposed for a rolling hayfield in Gorham could be in service for up to 35 years, and the project might incorporate a flock of sheep in a “solar grazing” program.

Nexamp of Boston proposes a photovoltaic solar, ground-based array project on Fort Hill Road property it would lease from Norman Martin Trust. Nexamp presented its plans to the Gorham Planning Board Monday in a pre-application discussion.

“Nexamp will be the long-term owner and operator of the project,” said Henry Barrett, Nexamp solar business development manager.

The entire parcel is 83.6 acres and Nexamp would lease about 30 acres.

“It’s bigger than the Maine Mall,” Planning Board member James Anderson said.

The solar array would produce electricity for nearly 1,000 homes, converting sunlight directly into power and connecting to the Central Maine Power grid. An electrical substation is adjacent to the property. On-site battery storage would feed electricity to the grid after sunset, Nexamp’s civil engineer Christopher Ryan of Meridian Associates in Massachusetts, told the Planning Board.

It would take four to six months to build the project.

The entrance would be off Fort Hill Road. A farm-type mesh wire fence with wooden posts would enclose the solar array.

The highest end of the solar panels will be 7 feet from the ground. The supporting framework would consist of posts, about 25 feet apart and there will be no concrete footings.

No tree removal is proposed, no lighting is planned and the company intends to keep digging and other ground work at a minimum, company officials said.

A tributary to the Little River runs through the site.

James Moulton, a resident of Norway Road, had ecological and environmental concerns.

“It sounds like it won’t be hayed anymore,” Moulton said.

Palmer Moore, Nexamp vice president of business development, said some haying would likely continue.

Michelle Whittemore of Norway Road raised questions about the project’s impact on property values.

“If I was looking to buy a house, this would be intimidating,” Whittemore said.

Gorham Community Development Director Tom Poirier said at meeting’s end that the review process is focused on town rules and cannot consider the impact on property values.

Planning Board Chairman George Fox said the board wants to ensure that quality of life issues are addressed.

“It will have multiple public hearings,” Fox said, and he added that abutters could attend a site walk.

The company has solar farms in several states.

As for the sheep, Keith Hevenor, Nexamp communications director, said Tuesday the company launched a solar grazing program last year. It has sheep grazing on four of its sites – two in New York and two in Massachusetts. It pastured 150 sheep last year on a 30-acre solar farm in Newfield, New York, according to the company’s website.

“The program was very successful and will be expanded in 2020,” Hevenor said. “If and when we launch solar grazing for Gorham, we would partner with a local farmer to determine the right approach for the site.”

The solar array project appears to be in keeping with the town’s comprehensive plan.

“Gorham supports sustainability of the environment and natural resources while being open to considering new technologies or new ideas that enhance the community’s sustainability and improve the living environment,” read a town comment in printed material about the solar farm.

“The state is pushing for these types of projects,” Moore said about Nexamp plans.

Civil engineer Christopher Ryan, left, and Nexamp’s Henry Barrett and Palmer Moore explain their solar array plan to the Gorham Planning Board Monday. Robert Lowell / American Journal

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