Cortland’s Common Council delayed action Tuesday to allow Mayor Brian Tobin to enter into lease agreements to study land for potential solar projects on the city’s South End.
The decision focused on two projects — a 5-acre parcel east off South Main Street on Noss Park Road and an approximately 19-acre parcel west of Pendleton Street behind Ames Linen Service — which the city had been looking at as sites for land assessment by Davis Hill Development, LLC to study whether solar projects could be installed on the sites.
Actions were tabled to “allow us more time to have discussions and answer questions that have been brought forward,” Tobin said.
The two parcels were originally part of one lease agreement, but Ric VanDonsel, the city’s corporation counsel, noted before the meeting that during a discussion at the Feb. 2 Common Council meeting, Alderman Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) and Mack Cook, the city’s administration and finance director, were reluctant to have the Noss Park Road site potentially used for solar.
Cook hoped it could be used for industrial or commercial development.
This led to the creation of two potential lease agreements, one for each site, VanDonsel said.
Remediation work to remove hazardous materials in soil is being done on the Noss Park Road parcel, VanDonsel said.
Once that is done, there will be potential for development, unlike the larger parcel, which has limited uses as a brownfield — a vacant or underused property.
“These blighted properties, they’re somewhat of an open wound of our past,” Tobin said before the meeting. Making use of these properties would be a “value to the psyche of Cortland.”
Tobin agreed with Cook that the Noss Park Road parcel might be a good piece of land to make use of for industrial use.
Because the larger parcel west of Pendleton Street is a brownfield and is more limited in its potential, a solar project might not be a bad use, he said.
For now, the property is used to offload train cars from the rail line that runs through the property.
The question then becomes, what do you do with the rest of the land if it has limited uses?
“So why not solar?” Tobin asked.
He noted that any potential solar projects would be removed from the roads and have natural barriers like trees to help prevent them from becoming sight problems.
The leases, however, are preliminary steps and nothing is guaranteed.
The leases “would give a solar company the ability to study the property and see if it makes sense for them,” Tobin said.