Despite considerable local opposition to what many solar energy proponents see as an excessively lengthy time window, last week the Gardiner Town Board voted unanimously to pass a local law establishing a nine-month moratorium on constructing ground-mounted solar arrays in the town for purposes other than domestic use.
Before the public hearing was closed, several residents complained that nine months should not be necessary to draft new language for the town’s zoning code establishing standards for solar installations, because many communities in New York State have already passed such laws.
Town supervisor Marybeth Majestic reported that the town had already heard back from both the town and Ulster County planning boards; the town board supported the moratorium, while the county board noted that, due to the recent trend for utility companies to exert pressure on rural landowners to sign over development rights for possible future solar farms, “other communities have already developed standards” that Gardiner could quickly adopt with minimal tweaking.
Majestic acknowledged that town officials had received examples of zoning code language designed to protect towns from possible negative fallout from commercial solar development, and indicated that they would be considered as part of the process of amending the code. “We will try to accomplish this in a much more timely manner” than the allowable maximum of nine months, she said. “We will work diligently on it…Everybody on this board is for solar power.”
A special meeting to be dedicated solely to discussion of new standards for solar generation facilities is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 29 at Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.