TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
TUESDAY, 06/08/2021, 7:00 PM
MEMBERS PRESENT: PAT RICE PHIL STRAND
JIM GOODLING RICHARD JOHNSON
GARY WINGER JOHN WARNER
OTHERS PRESENT: Stephanie Gibbs, Dick Sena, Dale Robbins/Kelly Johnson, Clayton & Helen Emick, Mike Pfeil, Don McCord, Robert Yates
- PAT RICE OPENED THE MEETING AT 7:00 PM.
Mr. McCord said we worked on solar in 2018. He said depending on the district some of the setback’s towns have used are not appropriate for the area. Mr. McCord said something they would want to put into consideration is the batterie storage. He said a lot of local fire departments do not have the capacity to deal with a batterie storage fire that might occur and there are other opportunities depending on where they are located for there to be some environmental concerns if there were an accident to occur. Mr. McCord asked how you set them up and what provisions do you put in place to try to protect those items if a larger solar plant were to come to the town. He said for the board the local law they put together they were only looking under 25 megawatts now it will be more than 120 acres before it goes to state level. Mr. McCord said they need to decide where in the town they do not want large solar. He said there are factors that will come in such as the location of the transmission lines. Mr. Rice said he was under the impression that the town could not really regulate the solar farms. Mr. McCord said you can put regulations on the books, and they will take it into the consideration, but they may be liberal if you are too strict, but they will still look at it. Mr. McCord said it depends on the district for what is an appropriate setback. Mr. Rice asked if the board could put in regulations to prevent a solar farm from going into a location of the town, they do not feel fit for solar. Mr. McCord said we can put those regulations in the law. Mr. Yates said the batteries and issues that come with them should weigh heavily on our setbacks. He said one of the problems he sees is the solar panels are only good for 15 years then it is a question on who takes care of it. Mr. Goodling said when thinking about setbacks it is important to understand what the impacts are on the people that live nearby. He asked what the impacts would be such as noise or reflection. Mr. McCord said there really are not huge impacts with solar. He said the biggest impact is glare and you need such a large area. He said the impacts are largely visual. Mr. Rice asked if the town adopted the solar law, they did in 2018. Mrs. Gibbs said the town adopted the law in 2018. Mr. Rice said we need to just start with that law and see if we need to change it at all. Mr. Sena said they talked about putting in the law about reclaiming the land because of the 15-year life span on the solar panels so they cannot just leave them when they are done. Mr. Robbins said he thinks it is important to know how it integrates with the state’s new regulations with the larger projects and to define what the larger projects can do. Mr. Goodling asked if any of these projects are ever bonded. Mr. Yates said if it is requested yes. Mr. Warner said we basically do not want to see any solar in the R districts except for personal use that cannot be sold. He said we look at the AR and see what we can do to protect then with 400ft setbacks, greenery to block to glare and set a maximum of 25acres. He said in the AG maybe go to a 200ft set back and if there is a close neighbor you need to have a green barrier with the max of 50 acres. Mr. Rice asked if we could do that. Mr. McCord said the state will let you do it, but you might be overridden if somebody comes to them with a very large project. Mr. Robbins said the state does not have to abide by any town laws. Mr. Warner asked what they can put in the protect the town. Mr. Robbins said the state will take their suggestions into consideration as long as they are not too strict. Mr. McCord said the biggest challenge now is the incentive for doing these projects are large. Mr. Johnson said in the 2018 law roof mounts were allowed in all districts and ground mount were allowed in AG, AG Res, Light industrial and commercial. He said he assumed all roof mounts would be small scale but there is no size restriction, so he thinks it is something we need to specify. He said the time of this law there was not mention of batteries. He feels if batteries are involved, the setbacks should increase because of the noise consideration. Mr. McCord said it is a good idea to have something in the law involving batteries.
- COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Mr. Rice asked if we need to update our comprehensive plan. Mr. Sena said he felt it necessary because of all the change currently going on in the town. Mr. McCord said is has been 10 years, so it probably is time to look at that document. Mr. Rice asked what would be involved in updating the plan. Mr. McCord said he thinks they need to look at what they have so when they put it together, they get what they want. He said review their plan and see where there are some deficits and what needs to be addressed in the new plan. He thinks there should be some public process to gather information from the residents, but it does not need to be as extensive as before.
Mr. Robbins said there are 14 or 15 kinds of distribution the state is going to allow. All of them except for 2 are allowable in every municipality in the state even if you opt out. There are 2 things the town can opt out of, and those 2 things are the dispensary and on-site establishments to smoke. Mr. Robbins said if you opt out you lose the financial benefits and the ability to put a time and place when marihuana activities are allowed. Mrs. Johnson said if you put restrictions that are too confining the state can override them. Other examples of licenses you can get are adult use cultivator license, processor, distributer, and retail and they all need their own license. Mrs. Johnson said the financial incentive is there will be a 13% sales tax in NY. 9% will be directed to the state, 4% goes to localities and will be broken down. 1% goes to the county and 3% gets divided between all the towns that did not opt out. If there is a village in your town that is also divided between the town and village. Mrs. Johnson said the town has until December to make their determination weather to opt out or not. Mrs. Johnson said if you have anything in your town banning marihuana sales, it is now void. Mrs. Johnson said another thing the town needs to worry about are the environmental concerns such as water usage, energy usage, carbon admissions, waste, pollutants, harmful chemicals, and single use plastics.
Mr. McCord said with the list we have right now he places 5G at the bottom of the list. Mr. McCord said 5G is very expensive and he does not think North Harmony will be the first to get it.
Next regular meeting scheduled July 13, 2021, at 7:00 P.M.
- ON A MOTION MADE BY MR. GEIST, SECONDED BY MR. RICE AND NONE BEING APPOSED, THE MEETING WAS ADJOURNED AT 8:23 PM
Deputy Town Clerk