Solar Panels at Westfield Public Schools Get OK From Planning Board & More

George Duthie presented the board with the Westfield Board of Education's Solar Power Purchase Agreement. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Stephen F. Hehl, of Hehl & Hehl, represented both Ferraro's and Vine Ripe Markets during Monday's meeting. Credits: Michael Bruchert

WESTFIELD, NJ – The Westfield Planning Board met Monday to review a presentation on the Solar Power Purchase Agreement for Westfield Public Schools, along with two new appeals from Ferraro’s Realty Group, LLC and Vine Ripe Markets.

George Duthie, a principal of Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie, P.C., presented before the board the proposed solar panel additions for Westfield High School, Edison Elementary School, Tamaques Elementary School, Wilson Elementary School and Roosevelt Intermediate School.

According to Duthie, all of the new solar panels will be mounted on the roof of each school, which are hidden to the naked eye from ground level, with the exception of a few on Westfield High School. Duthie conducted the district-wide roofing study and oversaw the recent repairs and replacement of said school buildings.

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Michael Ford, a construction project manager at GeoPeak Energy, LLC, plans to install roughly 230 solar panels per school, which will provide the same amount of power needed for 15 smaller size homes, he said. In response to a question posed by Bob Newell, Ford said he believed the new panels will provide upwards of 50 percent of the electricity for each school and last a minimum of 25 years.

After review and recommendations from the board, the solar panels will be implemented on each school simultaneously this June.

Under new appeals, the board heard testimonies from Giuseppe DiPietro, an executive chef and partner for Ferraro’s, along with engineer Tom Quinn, architect Robert Algarin and planner James Watson regarding an addition to the catering business on S. Elmer Street.

The board approved the variances sought by Ferraro’s, whose owners plan to expand storage space within their kitchen after moving food production to the secondary site after a fire five years ago. Ferraro’s South offers carry-out, delivery and catering services only.

Additionally, planning board members deliberated over an application sought by Vine Ripe Markets, whose owner, Frank Bruno, requested relocation of the store’s entrance sign and four window signs on each side of the building.

After careful consideration, board members determined that relocation of the store’s main sign was appropriate, but that vinyl signage in the store’s windows was excessive, and agreed to allow the owner to relocate some signage above the side walls in lieu of proposed variances.

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