Plans for two solar arrays with the goal of offsetting municipal and school energy costs are set to go to the Westbrook City Council for final contract negotiations.

A rendering of Atlantic Federal Credit Union branch planned for Riverside St. in Westbrook. Contributed / City of Westbrook

The Westbrook Planning Board Tuesday approved conceptual plans for the solar arrays on the Rocky Hill and Sandy Hill landfills. The board also approved plans for a 3,000-square-foot Atlantic Regional Credit Union near Kohl’s on Riverside Street along with a proposal for six apartments above the Daily Grind on Main Street.

Chris Byers, a senior programming manager with consulting firm BRI Environmental working with C2 Energy, said the company is working as “quickly as possible” with the goal of wrapping up the project next year.

“This is a great use of solar in Westbrook,” Byers said.

Installing solar arrays on landfills is on the rise nationwide, he said, making good use of “land that isn’t useful for anything” else because it cannot be developed.

The Rocky Hill array off of Methodist Road will produce 1.25 megawatts into the power grid, while the Sandy Hill project on Eleanor Avenue will produce 4 megawatts.

The developer of a four story mixed use building at 630 Main St., Westbrook, has received a one-year extension on the project. File photo

The resulting cost-savings to the city will be determined once the City Council settles on the contracts, according to Director of Planning Jennie Franceschi.

“This is their first look at making sure this is feasible, making sure they can get their permits,” Franceschi said. “The next piece of the puzzle is that the applicant will go to City Council for a contract to move forward on this project, then in that, there will be negotiated costs for electricity.”

The solar panels will rest on concrete ballasts, so the ground will not be broken, the developers said. A 7-foot security fence will be installed around the perimeter.

The new Atlantic Federal Credit Union branch will be built at 90 Riverside St., the former site of a Mobil gas station. Board members praised it’s modern design and parking lot connecting to the Westbrook Crossing shopping plaza.

“That is going to be an architectural piece of art and beautiful in our gateway,” Planning Board Chairperson Rene Daniel said.

Also approved was a plan for six apartments in former office space above the Daily Grind at 820 Main St.

Franceschi said the project is in line with the city’s goals for a recent ordinance change that allows more building density downtown.

“I think this sort of mixed-use development is great,” Planning Board member Jason Frazier said.

Details about the apartment sizes and project costs were not available.

The board gave a one-year extension to a previously approved four-story building with commercial space and apartments at 630 Main St., which developer Ryan Le said was needed after the project failed to get off the ground due to market conditions during the pandemic.

The project will still be built, Le said, and consist of 12 apartments and commercial space on the bottom floor, also taking advantage of new regulations around downtown density and building height.

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