Peter Morse-Ackley of Cortlandville said Monday he supports solar projects within the town, just not in residential areas — including a proposed 12-acre solar project across the street from his home.
Morse-Ackley and more than 200 other residents have signed a recently created petition calling for the town to stop solar projects coming into areas near residential zones.
“It seems as though Cortland County is heading toward becoming the solar capital of the world,” reads the petition on Change.org. “Last year alone, town, city, and county planning boards have been presented with more than a dozen proposed solar projects. These projects DO NOT NEED TO BE IN OUR BACKYARDS. Cortland County has ample open spaces to encourage green energy without disrupting residents or residential neighborhoods.”
Two projects that the petition targets, though not named in the petition, include the 2-megawatt, 12-acre project on McLean Road and roughly a half-mile east of Lime Hollow Nature Center and two side-by-side 5-megawatt solar projects on roughly 75 acres proposed off Bell Crest Drive near St. Mary’s Cemetery, Morse-Ackley said.
As of Monday morning, the petition had 210 signatures with a goal of 500, six days after it was created.
Morse-Ackley said he signed the petition as he believes that solar projects like the one planned across the street from his house on McLean Road don’t fit the character of the neighborhood.
“We built our homes thinking we were protected by our zoning,” he said. He hopes the petition will bring attention to town officials regarding residents’ opposition.
Town Supervisor Tom Williams said he and other members of the Cortlandville Town Board will look at petitions brought before them on issues town residents are facing.
“Anyone can petition us any time,” he said.
A recent example of change started by a petition was when resident John Conway submitted a petition asking the town for help in addressing the issues of speeding drivers near Conway’s home on Bennie Road near Walden Oaks Boulevard. The petition called for a street light.
Drivers would frequently go faster than the 30 mph speed limit, Conway had said. Additionally, the hilly road made it harder to see cars, adding to the challenge Conway and neighbors faced to get onto Bennie Road.
Following the petition and approval from the town board, stop signs were installed in November. The board decided in January to add stop signs with flashing lights.
Members of the Cortlandville Town Board have spoken at meetings about implementing a moratorium for solar projects — as roughly half a dozen projects have been brought before the town — but Williams said he wasn’t comfortable implementing another moratorium following one in 2018 as the town created its solar laws. But if that’s what the board decides, he will follow its wish.
A post on the petition said the petition would be brought up today during a public hearing by the Cortlandville Planning Board regarding two side-by-side 5-megawatt solar projects proposed off Bell Crest Drive.
Morse-Ackley said that by signing it, he hopes the petition will send the message that town residents are unhappy with the proposed projects.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness” of what’s going on, he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that a petition regarding Bennie Road called for a street light at Walden Oaks Boulevard.