While Andrew McVinish, his wife, Lauren Anderson and their neighbor, Clay Trumpbour support solar energy in principle, they say a 24-acre field that abuts McVinish’s home is simply the wrong place to install a large array of solar panels.
Cypress Creek Renewables is eyeing the parcel for a “solar farm.” From the rear of McVinish and Anderson’s Kings Highway property — indeed, from Kings Highway itself — the vista includes an open field, a tree line and distant mountains.
The open houses a variety of wildlife, McVinish said. “There’s bear out there, there’s coyotes; there’s a population of American eagles, red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, and a number of birds that are federally protected.”
Cypress Creek Zoning and Development Manager Anne Waling said the company’s studies show that the view of the mountains would not be obstructed by the solar array and the screening vegetation. “You would not see the field, but I don’t think the view of the mountains would be impacted,” she said. She urged residents to attend the informational meeting
Trumpbour’s family has been farming the property for decades with the permission of the owner, David Smith. “My family and I have been the caretakers and the haymakers for the last 40 years. We kept the fields and the property in shape, and oversaw everything. It was kind of a shock that David Smith [the owner] would even consider doing this,” he said.
One of Trumpbour’s concerns is that “if this is approved, it will be the first foothold of industrialization for this area.”
“My parents, Bill and Ellie Trumpbour, have always been very involved and outspoken in trying to preserve this area. They have had their hand in anything that’s been going on in the town for the last 40 years that would change this out here at all. About every 15 years someone comes up with an idea that would change us out here.”
McVinish summed up the problems raised by the proposed solar farm: “It floods, plus you’re destroying an unfettered view of the mountains from a historic district.” The planned project also intrudes on a historic district, Anderson pointed out. “This area represents the beginning of the settlement, and there are historic districts up and down the highway,” she said. “There are historical markers up and down the road, so one would question why put solar panels and compromise that?
McVinish pointed out that there is a good deal of old industrial land around Ulster County for which a solar array would be a good use. “We are pro-solar; it’s the future of generating power in this country, but not here. There must be more suitable land within the county that could be better used.”
“We’re trying to inform the public,” Waling said. If the environmental information given to the planning board was incorrect, “we will correct it,” she said, referring to an assertion made by Cypress Creek in the proposal’s environmental assessment form that the land in question was no longer being farmed. “I knew they were growing hay on the field because I saw the wagons. The environmental statement will be corrected.”
A public information meeting on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Senior Center. The planning board’s formal public hearing will be Tuesday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior Center.