My neighbors and I feel completely bamboozled by the construction of an unsightly solar-panel canopy currently underway at the Recreation Department parking lot on Mill Plain Road.

This location is directly across from a residential neighborhood, in front of businesses whose signs are now obscured, next to St. Thomas' charming old cemetery and on one of the principal approaches to Fairfield Center. There must certainly be other, better places to put solar panels, including roofs, that would not also necessitate the added expenditure necessary to construct the 20 or so steel poles there now.

Although this was placed on the RTM agenda in August 2013 and approved the following month, at no time were any of the businesses or neighboring residents ever specifically notified that this location was under consideration. We think it was a procedural misstep not to have our Zoning Commission hear this plan and allow for public comment.

Moreover, I have been unable to find the building or design specifications for this project on the town website, and there is no mention in the September 2013 RTM meeting minutes of any having been reviewed by RTM members.

Ideologically, I have no problem with the idea of a solar energy initiative, and some panels already are installed on the roofs of town-owned buildings, such as the one rented by the Fairfield Theatre Company and some schools. I'm just heartbroken that no one seems to have considered the negative aesthetic impact a large industrial-looking solar field has at the Mill Plain Road location. I wish more thought had gone into this decision and I hope it's not too late to correct.

Elise McKay