After waiting nearly three months for visual screening projections from representatives of a proposed 1.65-megawatt solar system on land owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., the Batavia Town Planning Board got its wish Tuesday night and then took only 12 minutes to approve the site plan and special use permit for the project.
James Taravella, senior civil engineer with LaBella Associates in Orchard Park, had the visualizations in hand as he appeared before the board at its monthly meeting at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road.
The venture, known as Batavia Solar LLC, calls for the placement of the ground-mounted solar farm at 99 Med Tech Drive, off R. Stephen Hawley Drive across from Genesee Community College.
Taravella showed photos from three different vantage points – east of the property of Robert and Michelle Wood, who reside just east of the site; the corner of R. Stephen Hawley Drive, and the Med Tech Building parking lot. The photos depicted the location as it looks now, the expected condition at the time of planting, and projections five years from now and 10 years from now.
He also said he talked with the Woods earlier in the day and said the couple will be involved in the screening process throughout the project life.
“As we’re out there, they’re more than welcome to say, ‘Hey, can you move that over?’, and they can have direct input on their actual final placement because it’s right by their house,” Taravella said. “One of the things Michelle made really clear was that she would rather have this than have Benderson come in and build a plaza behind her house.”
Planning board member Steve Tanner said he appreciated the simulations but the solar panels, being on a perched hill, will be visible.
“No matter what you do, when you drive down the road, it’s still going to be there and you’re still going to see it,” he said, comparing it to the solar farm on Batavia-Elba Townline Road that is in plain sight.
Following Taravella’s brief presentation, planners accepted the site plan contingent upon town engineering approval and a decommissioning bond, and the special use permit that includes regular maintenance and the installation of no more than three utility poles.
Board approval had been delayed – and tabled -- three times due to the fact that the visual screening projections had not been submitted.
Photo: View from Med Tech Building parking lot, looking east. The Robert and Michelle Wood residence on Batavia Stafford Townline Road can be seen in the background. Photo by Mike Pettinella.