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Hearings on Controversial Solar Farm to Begin in September

49,000 solar panels would power Bridgewater office complex.

Signs opposing the solar farm project have been posted along Country Club Road. Photo by Mike Deak.
Signs opposing the solar farm project have been posted along Country Club Road. Photo by Mike Deak.
Hearings on a controversial plan to build a solar farm on Bridgewater’s northern border will begin in September.

The Bedminster Land Use Board decided on Thursday to deem complete the application of KDC Solar to construct a, 49,000-panel industrial-scale solar power plant on the 55-acre Kirby property at Country Club and Meadow roads. 

That paves the way for the long-awaited hearings on the project to begin Sept 5.

A citizens group, Stop Somerset Hills Solar Power Plant, is opposing the application, along with Raritan Headwaters Association and New Jersey Highlands Coalition. 

The solar plant, which would be constructed on vacant farmland, would power only Sanofi-Aventis on Route 202/206 in Bridgewater. The electricity would be transmitted through a tunnel under the Chambers Brook and Route 287 to the Sanofi-Aventis site.

The groups opposing the plan claim the panels would cover an area as large as the Bridgewater Commons.

KDC Solar had asked for a delay in hearing the application because its original engineering firm, Birdsall Engineering, filed for bankruptcy after being charged by the state with money laundering and conspiracy, causing KDC to hire a new engineering firm, board officials said. The proposal remains “essentially the same.”

The Kirby property was the battleground of a landmark legal battle in the 1990s over Bedminster’s zoning ordinance that allows only one housing unit per 10 acres. The landowner challenged the ordinance, but lost after a protracted legal battle.

A historic barn on the property, considered by many as an iconic image of Bedminster’s rural character, was demolished this year because of its poor condition.

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