October 23, 2021

C’ville approves solar project moratorium

Solar Panel Stock photo

Metro Creative stock image

The Cortlandville Town Board voted Wednesday to impose a six month moratorium on solar projects to give time to form a committee to review potential changes to the town’s solar laws following a public hearing at which three of four speakers favored the moratorium.

The moratorium, approved 5-0, will prevent solar projects that have not been approved by the town planning board, zoning board of appeals and had not received a building permit, Supervisor Tom Williams said.

Town Attorney John DelVecchio said the moratorium would halt development of several projects:

  • Two side-by-side five-megawatt projects on 75 acres on Bell Crest Drive.
  • A 24-acre project off of Locust Avenue.
  • A 5-megawatt, 36-acre project off of Riley Road.

Williams said before the meeting that following approval, the moratorium would need to be received by the state Secretary of State, who would need to confirm reception before it would go into effect.

That would likely happen next week.

The board also unanimously approved creating a committee of members from the town’s planning board, zoning board of appeals, DelVecchio and residents to review changes in the solar law.

Williams said advertisements seeking volunteers would be posted on the town website and in the Cortland Standard. He said he was looking to have recommendations for people wanting to join by the first week of May.

DelVecchio said developers face fines if they continue work on a project that has not been approved by the planning and zoning boards and has not received a building permit. The town could also stop construction and potentially remove any construction that has occurred through a court order.

The moratorium was imposed as town residents had previously shared their concerns about the number of solar projects being built throughout the town without the town having updated planning and zoning laws to account for them.

The town has been working on updating its comprehensive plan from 1978.

Three of four speakers at a public hearing before the vote supported the moratorium.

Peter McAuliffe, an employee with solar developer Omni Navitas, said was working with a homeowner on Carr Hill Road pursuing a solar project and asked that the project be exempted from the moratorium.

Other residents shared their concerns.

“Solar farms will be proliferating in New York state and Cortlandville,” said Bob Martin. “We need to make sure we have a total process fully implemented that will handle environmental and financial concerns.”

Peter Morse-Ackley said he was in favor of the moratorium as it would allow the town to reflect on where solar sites should be built and how they should be buffered.

Morse-Ackley previously opposed a 12-acre proposed solar project in a residential zone off McLean Road.

“Some of these solar proposals should have been an easy, ‘no, not here, not today, not ever,’” he said.

In the works

Some of the solar projects in Cortlandville according to town documentation. Others are underway, but details were unavailable:

  • 13-acre project off Route 13 — under construction.
  • 16-acre project off Lime Hollow Road — under construction.
  • 12-acre project off South Cortland Virgil Road — under construction.
  • 9-acre project off Stupke Road — under construction.
  • 10-acre project off East River Road — under construction.
  • 36-acre project off Riley Road — before planning board.
  • 24-acre project off Locust Avenue — developer suing town over use variance denial.
  • Two side-by-side projects on 75 acres on Bell Crest Drive — developer determining what to do as project was found to have an environmental impact for construction.
  • 16-acre solar project off Tower Road — under construction.