Planning Board Minutes
January 20, 2021
PRESENT: David Paterniti – Chairman James Butler
Absent: Robert Whitman
PRESENT: Attorney Joel Seachrist, Town of Busti Supervisor Jesse Robbins, Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Swanson, Jennifer Applebee, Judy Greyber, Kim Greyber, Cole Smith, Solar Liberty Representatives – Adam Rizzo, Nathan Rizzo, Paul Lavoie, and Mike Prinzi; Colton Swan joined the meeting via telephone at 6:13 p.m.
Chairman David Paterniti called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
Chairman Paterniti noted the Planning Board had received to consider the application of Solar Liberty, 6500 Sheridan Dr, Suite 120, Buffalo, New York, to construct a Large-Scale Solar System located at 1255 S. Main Street Extension. Property is owned by PPP Future Development, 9489 Alexander Rd, Alexander, NY and known as Section 421.00, Block 2, Lot 1.4 of the official tax map of the Town of Busti. Property is in the Conservation Agricultural District (CA). Mr. Paterniti explained the roll of the Planning Board is to look at the application and the area of the project, verify the use is allowed according to the town’s Zoning Code, and evaluate the visual effect for the surrounding area. If all of the above comply with the requirements, the Planning Board recommends the application go before the Town Board or Zoning Board of Appeals. This is not a Public Hearing.
Kim Greyber stated approximately 170 people have signed a petition to stop the project from being granted and a number of homes will be affected by the project. He continued with his interpretation of the Comprehensive Plan Vision Statement – “a small-town character managing where and how growth occurs” Mr. Greyber believes the proposed solar project will change the character of the area because it can not be hidden. He would recommend a project like this be constructed in the Industrial District.
Jennifer Applebee stated she is a lifelong resident who has an appreciation of the environment and is concerned about wildlife. She is also concerned about how the solar project will affect the value of the surrounding homes and property.
Colten Swan, Busti Stillwater Road resident, via telephone, stated that he is concerned with the long-term effect on the area; he has seen an abandoned “Solar Farm” in Watkins Glen, NY and would not want to see anything like that in the Town of Busti.
Solar Liberty representatives, Nathan Rizzo and Mike Prinzi, presented a document from Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) addressing the effect of Solar projects on property values. They also presented a Rider to Glare Analysis, stating the glare from the solar system will not impact the surrounding community.
Chairman Paterniti asked about prepping the land for the system. The Solar Liberty representatives explained there won’t be any grading to prepare for the installation. The lowest part of the system is 3 feet off the ground. The area will be mowed three times a year with riders, weed whackers, and push mowers.
Attorney Seachrist inquired about the chain link fence. According to the Solar Liberty representatives the fence will be 16 feet off the modules and around each array. He believes it will be placed 100 feet from the borders according to set back requirements, but he will verify that. They can have a berm that is 4 to 5 feet with foliage planted on it. The trees have a mature growth of 14 feet and will be 28 feet from the array.
Janet Briggs inquired about the height of the fence, including the barbed wire. Chairman Paterniti stated it should be 7 feet total with close hole.
Solar Liberty representatives noted there will be a control house, three intersections, a remote gate, and a manual switch on site. Part of the access road will be fenced in and there will be a gate at the road as required by law.
Chairman Paterniti will check with the local Fire Department about the turn around space. Code Enforcement Officer Swanson stated NYS Code has requirements for the turn around.
Attorney Seachrist inquired if the system would have an interconnector perspective with hosting capacity. Solar Liberty representatives explained there will be 2 25 mega watt transformer feeders that will tap in local lines at the road. Mr. Seachrist inquired about overhead lines along the access roads. According to Solar Liberty representatives National Grid recommends the overhead lines like telephone poles. Mr. Seachrist inquired about signage by the gate with emergency contact information. CEO Swanson stated there should be Knock Boxes on all gates: one key should be given to the town’s CEO and the other to the local Fire Chief.
There was discussion regarding area residents view of the system.
Supervisor Robbins asked if the Solar project could support itself without tax credits. Solar Liberty representatives said no however, they believe the value does benefit the community with Town and School tax revenue. They are applying for a 15-year tax pilot.
Janet Briggs asked if there are any wetlands on the property. According to Solar Liberty representatives there are wetlands on the property, but they will not be affected by the project. The project will be approved by the DEC and Army Corp of Engineers. There will be a buffer between the arrays and the wetlands. They may have to bore under the wetlands to mitigate that area.
Solar Liberty representatives noted they have constructed similar projects at SUNY Fredonia and University of Buffalo in a residential area. They have also constructed a project in Monroe County with a vegetative screen.
There was more discussion about the local residents view of the system from their homes.
There was discussion about the gas well that is located on the property. Solar Liberty representatives stated they will be building around the gas well. CEO Swanson stated there are legal setbacks for building near gas wells.
Chairman Paterniti stated there was more work for the Planning Board before they could make a final decision. He asked the board to send him any questions that may come to their mind later. The Board will plan another meeting and notify Solar Liberty of the date and time.
Attorney Seachrist reminded everyone that the Planning Board is doing a site plan review and will finalize recommendations before the application is returned to the Town Board.
Jim Butler moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:10 p.m.; duly moved by Janet Briggs.
Darlene H. Nygren