December 2, 2021

Review adopted for Dryden solar projects

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

A supporter of the solar projects posts a sign of support on a front lawn on Rochester Street in Dryden.

Lawns along many streets in Dryden sport signs: “Save our cemetery,” some say, or “Protect Dryden Farmland.” Others read “Community solar in Dryden, it’s time!”

As the process to site two commercial solar projects in the town advances, neighbors have been vocal, but not hostile, in their discussions.

The State Environmental Quality Review for proposed solar projects in the town that would see 29 megawatts of power being established has been approved and faces a subdivision review next month.

Earlier this year, solar project applications were submitted to the planning board by Distributed Sun of Washington D.C. The solar projects include a 11-megawatt facility at 2150 Dryden Road, next to Willow Glen Cemetery and an 18-megawatt facility on Turkey Hill Road.

While walking down Union Street Tuesday, resident Gordon Guest said he is for solar, as long as it is done responsibly. “I wish they would do it in a different spot,” he said.

Guest said the old town landfill on Caswell Road would be a good place.

While everyone has different views, Guest hasn’t had anyone act un-neighborly in wake of the projects, he said.

“It’s not an issue someone should get upset about,” he said.

“People are still very respectful,” said Ray Burger, the town’s director of planning.

During a meeting July 20, the State Environmental Quality Review of the proposed solar project was approved. Burger said the town board decided the projects have no significant environmental impacts.

The next step in the process is a subdivision review next month for the 2150 Dryden Road property, Burger said.

In April, more than 100 people, both in support and opposition, voiced comments during a second public hearing. While dozens spoke against the projects, none were against solar energy, only the projects themselves, the locations and effects on the area.

The town’s solar law was adopted unanimously on Feb. 23, after months of discussion. With the law, the town now has the ability to attract large-scale solar energy projects, which will add to the town’s tax rolls.

The law also gives companies a clear definition of the size, location, position and types of solar energy systems they can build.

The project still has to go through the design phase, but it is expected to add about 150 construction jobs and has a rough estimated value of about $40 million — that number could change as negotiations proceed.

The added tax revenue provided by the projects would be added to the town tax roll, potentially reducing property tax rates, if spending were to remain equal.