October 26, 2021

Bright idea for south end?

Cortland considers leasing parcels for use as solar farm

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

A car drives Wednesday near Pendleton Street in Cortland, where city officials are considering a proposal to lease land near Noss Industrial Park for potential use as a solar farm.

The city of Cortland may agree at some point to lease two south end parcels for use as a solar farm near Noss Industrial Park.

The Cortland Common Council will decide whether to authorize Mayor Brian Tobin to enter into a lease agreement for studying if land near the park could be used for future solar projects, although a decision was postponed at the council’s Tuesday meeting.

At issue is a proposal by Davis Hill Development, LLC to study whether solar projects could be installed on 148 acres of land on the Noss Industrial Park site and a small parcel of land off South Main Street.

The lease would not cost the city, said Corporation Counsel Ric VanDonsel. In fact, the city would get $800 an acre, according to the lease terms.

However, Alderman Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said he wasn’t comfortable with the lease being transferable; should a company start to build a solar project but then go bankrupt, it could walk away and leave the city with a liability.

Cortland Administration and Finance Director Mack Cook asked Michales what he would like changed, to which Michales replied he would like the city having more control over leasing.

“I just don’t want to see someone walk away from a problem,” Michales said.

Cook also questioned whether the smaller parcel of land, about 4 acres east of south Main Street, would best be used for solar projects or for something else.

Remediation work to remove hazardous soil at the site was agreed upon earlier this year, furthering the potential for develop8 ment, VanDonsel said.

“I still hold out hope for development of that property,” Cook said.

Cook also proposed that the smaller parcel could be taken out of the lease negotiation but keeping the larger property in it.