December 6, 2021

C’ville solar plan: 2 farms, 10 megawatts

Solar Panel Stock photo

Metro Creative stock image

A Colorado-based solar power developer hopes to build two side-by-side 5-megawatt solar power farms off Bell Crest Drive in Cortlandville, near St. Mary’s Cemetery.

A representative of the developer met Tuesday for the first time with the Cortlandville Planning Board to begin the review process.

The town board on Wednesday voted, 5-0, to have the planning board serve as lead agency, coordinating the approval process for the project. That decision came as some cited concerns about the proliferation of solar wind farms and whether a moratorium is needed to give the town more time to update a comprehensive plan that helps guide all kinds of development.

“I call it an informational meeting,” John Switzer, co-founder and managing partner for Summit Solar Capital, said of Tuesday’s planning board meeting. “We are working with the town on their various requests.”

Switzer said his partner, David Spots, attended the meeting.

The project would create jobs and tax revenue, he said, although specifics will not be known until the final scope of the project is determined. That will be sorted out with the town and National Grid, which would buy the energy the facility produces.

He said the project would not create any noise or odor and the view of the site would be screened.

Bruce Weber, the town planning and zoning officer, said Wednesday the town board and town planning board will determine which of the two will serve as lead agency, to oversee the approval process.

“The lead agency will decide what type of action it is (under the state Environmental Quality Review Act) and a determination whether a consultant will help in the process,” he said. “They have plans that pretty much define the scope of the project.”

The project would be situated on 75 acres of a 113-acre property owned by Lawrence G. Hill III.

This would be the 15th solar project proposed in the greater Cortland area. The state has been pressing for the development of renewable energy in recent years. The state set a goal of getting 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050.

Ground-mounted solar arrays would be placed at the site at 4242 Bell Crest Drive.

The project requires an aquifer protection district special permit and conditional permit from the town of Cortlandville.

Changes to the property by then-owner James Stevens III caused flooding to St. Mary’s Cemetery more than five years ago. The state stepped in to force corrective action and jailed Stevens for months when work did not begin.

Hill has since done work to prevent flooding and the solar project application notes that the solar project is not expected to contribute to flooding of neighboring properties.

The project includes solar arrays, transformers, inverters, access roads, utility poles and a security fence, according to the application. A 100-foot buffer will be maintained around wetlands on the site.


Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the amount of land the project would require.�����