December 4, 2021

Solar farm planned for Cincy site

Solar Panel Stock photo

Metro Creative stock image

Cincinnatus may soon have its own solar project, if a proposal being explored by Norbut Solar Farms of Rochester becomes a reality.

“We are just at the beginning stage of it right now,” said Dan Huntington, the company’s business development manager.

Huntington said Wednesday the proposed solar farm would likely generate between 10 and 20 megawatts. Norbut Solar Farms intends to seek a payment in lieu of taxes agreement through the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency.

Norbut Solar Farms last week signed a year-long purchase contract with the Knickerbocker Family Properties LLC, the owner of the Knickerbocker Country Club property at 5471 Telephone Road, said Brooke Kemak, spokeswoman for the property owners. Kemak said the golf course will continue to operate normally.

“Business is as usual for 2020,” reads a post Monday on the country club’s Facebook page. “The golf season will occur just like any other season. We will be open and things will be normal.”

“The offer accepted is with a company who develops solar projects,” the post continues. “There is a process for a solar project to break ground. This company has about a year to complete the steps of this process. If they are able to do so, they will close on the sale in about a year. If they are not able to complete the steps, there will be no change in ownership and the Knickerbockers will retain the golf course.”

The 142-acre Knickerbocker Country Club, which features an 18-hole golf course, has been in continuous operation since 1960; an earlier version of the golf course was built in 1929.

The town of Cincinnatus is looking to pass a six-month moratorium on the construction of solar projects. The town board had a public hearing on the moratorium in January and passed a resolution of the draft law, which is now being reviewed by the county Planning Department.

Town Supervisor Luann King said the moratorium would give the town board time to write and pass a law regulating solar projects. The town code does have a zoning provision pertaining to wind projects, she said, but nothing about solar projects.

King said the town board is likely to vote on the proposed moratorium law at its meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Cincinnatus Town Hall. Huntington said he will attend to answer questions.

Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency, will also attend the meeting, King said, although VanGorder and could not be reached for comment.

Huntington said he supports the moratorium and the town’s efforts to regulate solar projects.

“We completely understand it. We know that this is a growing industry, and it is typically happening in more rural areas,” he said. “We understand that they have to do their due diligence … and we’re happy to work with them in any way we can.”

Huntington said his company strives to build projects that have minimal environmental effect.

“Our internal mantra is the environment,” he said. Norbut Solar Farms tries to avoid cutting down trees or altering the property beyond the solar installation, he said.

The firm is also aware residents in rural areas may have concerns about commercial solar projects.

“We know that a lot of folks want solar, but we also know that a lot of them don’t want it in their back yards,” Huntington said.

Norbut Solar Farms is involved in several solar projects across New York, including a 10-megawatt project in Tioga County, a 5-megawatt project in Parma and a 5-megawatt project in Spencerport, which is now expanding to a 10-megawatt project.