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January 21, 2022 - 9:08am

Town planners: solar law process is on the right track

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia Town Planning Board, solar.

Members of the Batavia Town Planning Board are giving high marks to the committee that has been working on revising the town’s solar law over the past few months.

Planners discussed the committee’s progress at their meeting Tuesday night, agreeing that the latest draft presented to the public – while in need of a few tweaks – represents a major step toward rules and regulations that remove most of the guesswork for those desiring to install solar farms and for their neighbors.

“It’s a roadmap for developers .. the rules are pretty straightforward,” said board member Steve Tanner, one of four planning board members on the committee (the others being Don Partridge, Paul McCullough and Brittany Witkop).

Tanner said that guidelines concerning landscaping, screening, setbacks, fencing and size of the project will make it easier for solar companies to develop their proposals.

McCullough concurred, stating that a law that is documented and codified will leave “very little interpretation as to what can and cannot happen.”

Witkop and Partridge said they appreciated input from the public – with Witkop noting that the group is looking to modify some of the setback requirements as a result of comments from citizens at an informational session last month.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang termed changing some of the setbacks “a realistic vision” and said the process is nearing the point of conducting a State Environmental Quality Review, public hearing and county review.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said that he reviewed the proposed solar law as well.

“It included all of the circumstances and ambiguities we’ve seen over the past five years,” he said.

Committee Chair Chad Zambito, a town council member, has indicated a final draft will be ready in a couple weeks.

In other Town of Batavia news, Supervisor Gregory Post reported that 11 building permits for residential homes were issued in 2021, with an assessed value of $4.1 million, and that 26 commercial/industrial permits were issued, “which generated several tens of millions of dollars in assessed value.”

Post said that projects on Route 98, Park Road and King’s Plaza (water main) as well as meter renewal are ramping up, leading to a “positive forecast for the community’s economic portfolio …”

Also, the Town Board voted to continue its support of the Batavia Soccer Park on Bank Street Road at the $10,000 annual level for two more years.

Previously: Town solar committee asked to 'revisit' setback distances

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