Ellicott Street Road resident sets up meeting for Friday to discuss solar farm issues
The solar farm boom is upon us, which means that more and more rural residents are looking to their municipal leaders to inform them of rules and regulations pertaining to these green-energy producing systems.
That’s one of the reasons why Nancy Brach of 5168 Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Batavia is inviting her neighbors to attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. this Friday (June 28) at her home. She said the meeting will take place rain or shine, and dessert will be provided.
“We’re having this meeting due to a lack of communication about these projects and to learn what is allowed,” Brach said. “Why are people not notified beforehand? And if something does come up again, we want to have contact information to reach these people (who live near a proposed solar farm site).”
Specifically, Brach and other Ellicott Street Road residents who attended a Batavia Town Planning Board meeting last week were upset about a proposed solar farm installation on land owned by Donald Partridge.
They felt they hadn’t received adequate advance notification of the project, which ended up being denied by the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals due to the proposed size of 40 acres.
“So this could have taken place with no input at all if not for two people who printed out fliers and left them at our houses last weekend,” she said. “And that is not right. Bill (her husband) and I now read the (legal) notices in the paper, but I doubt we would have noticed that even if we had seen it.”
The Brachs are owners of Brach Machine, which is located at 4814 Ellicott Street Road.
Town Engineer Steve Mountain said the application by Truesdale Solar for the Partridge property could be resubmitted if it were reduced to conform to code (maximum of 20 acres).
He added that if a vote needs to be taken again, the same property owners within 500 feet of the proposed site would be notified by mail.
Although Brach’s home is more than 500 feet away, she believes more should be done to let people know about these projects other than being on the Town’s website.
Brach’s concerns over solar farms go beyond notification methods, however.
“Our meeting will be for awareness,” she said. “These projects benefit two parties -- the person leasing the property and the company installing the solar equipment. The town and the people of the town do not benefit.
“And the funds for these projects come from the taxpayers. These projects do not pay for themselves, they are only profitable with the subsidies we, as taxpayers, fund.”
She decried the expenses to the Town involved in zoning, planning and legal costs, and said that the projects are not self-supporting and should not be permitted until they are.
“And the 20-year bonds may or may not be enough to dismantle the equipment when the time comes, if they even last that long. Plus, people lose the beautiful country vistas that they hoped to enjoy for a lifetime.”
Brach said she thought that the Town of Stafford had a policy “more protective” of the rights of its residents, and hoped that some of Stafford’s ideas could be incorporated into Batavia’s policy.
In the end, she hopes Friday’s meeting will mobilize residents to speak out.
“As a taxpayer, I resent paying for projects that are not profitable just to benefit an individual and a company,” she said. “Luckily, I can afford it. But there are many people who cannot and we need to stand up for them, and for what is right.”