LAKEVILLE — Irked about the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s hurried plans to install solar canopies over the parking lots at the Lakeville commuter rail station, selectmen have voted to send a letter of complaint to state Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack about the lack of local input on the plan.

Chairman of Selectmen Aaron Burke said at the board’s Oct. 4 meeting that the MBTA’s canopy project will be “a blight” to the local landscape, and town officials should have been consulted on the plans. He also said that the Mass. Dept. of Transportation should have held public hearings to allow town residents and officials to comment on the project.

MassDOT has been installing solar power collector canopies at MBTA stations throughout the state for years. The department sees the solar power revenues as important sources of income to offset operating costs.

The decision to undertake a similar large-scale project in Lakeville is another example of “unilateral activity by the state” that local authorities have to deal with time after time.

Selectmen got wind of the proposed canopy project by hearing that the MBTA was trying to finalize a new PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with the town to cover the value of the solar panel installation. Private solar developers pay personal property taxes on the value of the solar arrays installed on purchased or rented land.

At the Lakeville station, “the parking lot is surrounded by residential apartments” and a sea of solar panels would hurt the “aesthetics” of the country setting, the chairman of selectman suggested. “That’s just what everybody living in those apartments wants to look at” instead of green grass and pine trees, he added with thick sarcasm.

The area off Main Street is a state-designated Smart Growth Development overlay district, including the high-density affordable housing apartment complex deemed desirable for state support because of the easy access to mass transit for hundreds of new residents.

At such a densely-used site, a large-scale solar panel installation shouldn’t be forced on a community without a public hearing or any other “local input,” Burke said. “We have some concerns, and we want to set up a meeting” with MassDOT to discuss the project, he said of the letter to be sent to Secretary Pollack.

“We want to make it clear... we don’t want this without some form of due process” by the state agency, Burke added. “The DOT should be a good neighbor and let us know what they are doing.”

Later in the meeting, he suggested asking the Lakeville Building Department to send a cease and desist letter to the state agency to try to put the brakes on the project. That option was the third item on a three-part action plan approved by selectmen.

Selectman John Powderly said he had already complained to State Senator Michael Rodrigues about the MassDOT’s poor communication skills, and the lack of local input or permitting reviews. He also said he was willing to support sending a cease and desist letter if needed to “get the attention” of state officials.

All three selectmen feel the town is being ignored when MBTA decisions are being made. Burke, like selectmen in neighboring Middleborough, said he is “irked” by the new South Coast Rail extension plans, which call for the Lakeville commuter rail station to be relocated to a new site in Middleborough.

“The Middleborough selectmen are not happy with it, and neither are we,” Burke said. “We allowed a whole (residential) development to be based on that commuter rail station.”

The so-called “Middleborough option” of the plan has the Lakeville facility either being used as a connecting point to the Cape Cod Flyer train, or as “overflow parking” for the new Middleborough commuter station, Burke indicated.

That plan has commuter rail trains running from New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton all passing through Lakeville on the way to the Middleboro station. “If this goes through, we will have more active rail lines than we have now,” said Selectman Mitzi Hollenbeck.

“We will have impacts from South Coast Rail, even if they don’t build a new Middleborough station,” she said. More trains means a negative impact on “the rural character of our town,” she suggested.

Most impacted would be the Taunton Avenue neighborhood, where the rail line runs along the boundary between a golf course and residential properties, selectmen suggested. More road crossings mean more potential crossing mishaps or traffic delays, officials said.

Selectman John Powderly didn’t like the mentioned possibility of abandoning the Lakeville station, and reserving it for emergency overflow parking, for security issues and other reasons. “If they’re going to abandon it, we should get the land... without a solar array on it,” he said, mentioning a token dollar as the town’s prospective payment for the parking lot area.

Adding to the potential sore points with state officials is the fact that the Commonwealth has funded considerably less than the promised Smart Growth incentives for the last few years. The payments to Lakeville were almost $1 million less than promised in the past two years, it was noted.

Town Administrator Rita Garbitt said she would try to arrange an Oct. 18 meeting with South Coast Rail Director Jean Fox and her staff, to discuss the Middleborough option impacts. Another option for a Mass DOT meeting is Oct. 20, as state legislators will be in town for a scheduled legislative breakfast with local officials at LeBaron Country Club; the DOT meeting could be held that afternoon, it was suggested.