Tabled again. Town planners still waiting for screening projections of solar project off R. Stephen Hawley Drive
The third time apparently wasn’t the charm for the Batavia Town Board in its quest to receive visual screening projections from Batavia Solar LLC for a ground-mounted, 1.65-megawatt solar systems on vacant land owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. at 99 Med Tech Drive.
The issue has delayed the project, which will be located off R. Stephen Hawley Drive across from Genesee Community College, for several months as planners have requested – thus far unsuccessfully – for the developer to provide projection pictures of the screening around the solar panels.
Planners, at their Tuesday night meeting, took the referral off the table, thinking they would be ruling on a special use permit. But after a discussion about the visuals, they voted to place it back on the table.
The planning board maintains that one-, five- and 10-year simulations of how the property will look with adequate screenings are necessary to ensure the system is out of sight from the neighboring property of Robert and Michelle Wood.
Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski informed the board Tuesday that officials of the Genesee County Economic Development Center contacted her and indicated that the Woods “were agreeable to the (proposed) screening and they wondered if we could deal with this without doing the projection pictures.”
Planner Don Partridge said that he also talked to the couple.
“I feel we can get along without it (projection photos),” Partridge said. “(If)) they do a double row of pine trees there, I think that will be sufficient.”
His colleagues had different ideas, however.
Steven Tanner said he wanted to see how it would look, not only from Hawley Drive, but from other roads in the vicinity, and Jon Long agreed.
“We’ve requested it a couple times so I don’t think it’s that big of a cost to the project,” Long said. “And then we have it on file if there are any problems down the road.”
Paul McCullough said it would set “a dangerous precedent” by not obtaining the documentation, prompting Jeremy Liles to agree, before Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he didn’t think it would be “appropriate to make exceptions.”
“I would remain consistent with everything we’ve done with every other solar. I suggest that we do require them to show us the actual detail,” Lang said.
As a result, a consensus to get the visualizations was reached, and all members, except Partridge, voted to put the referral back on the table once again.
Rising Water Levels at Ag Park
In another development, planners voted to adopt an amended version of the generic environmental impact statement for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road in light of an increase in the daily amount of water being used at the facility.
Town Engineer Steve Mountain reported that the current water usage at the park, which is the home of HP Hood, has moved past the original 614,000 gallons per day threshold and that future projections put the usage at 1.8 million gallons per day.
“This is the first project that exceeded the original threshold in the generic environmental impact statement … by a significant amount,” Mountain said.
The project to which he was referring to is HP Hood’s installation of a 16-inch water main from the town line on Route 5 down to the Ag Park Drive entrance that will cross the road and tie into the park.
“That will be a direct connection to the Monroe County Water Authority water source,” Mountain said. “To date, all of the water has come directly out of the city on East Main and Cedar Street.”
Mountain said the reason for the change is “water chemistry.”
“The water authority water is very low in chlorides (low levels of chlorides prevent corrosion) and you can imagine how many pipes there are in the HP Hood facility. That will alleviate a lot of the corrosion issues that they’re having,” he explained.
While that will provide additional volume for the future, HP Hood also is building a new storage tank, which it will own. Mountain said the 16-inch water main will be dedicated to the Town of Batavia.
Mountain said the 1.8 million gallons per day level is the new threshold that is under consideration, adding that letters were sent out to involved agencies and businesses. He also noted that O-At-Ka Milk Products wishes to be included in the mix for more water.
He then advised planners it was up to them to determine whether they think it is a significant impact or a negative or minor impact (negative declaration). The board then voted to adopt a revision of the original finding statements for the Agri-Business Park as it pertains to the expanded water threshold.