The first commercial solar farm proposal ever to go through the full review process under the Town of Gardiner’s Solar Law, adopted in 2017, stands poised for final approval by the Town Board in July. The 49.1-acre site to be developed by Lumens Holdings 3, LLC to generate two megawatts of electricity from the sun is located at 262 Libertyville Road on the New Paltz border, adjacent to the Field of Dreams.
Working in parallel with the Planning Board, the Town Board held a public hearing on the proposal in May and held it over into June. No objections were registered by residents, so the Town Board advised the town attorney to draw up a resolution to approve the Special Use Permit needed by Lumens Holdings, to be voted on at its July meeting.
At its June 22 meeting, the Planning Board reviewed the application and noted that all outstanding issues had been resolved except for the Special Use Permit being granted. The applicant obtained its needed area variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals in July 2020; the US Army Corps of Engineers had waived its right to require a special wetlands permit; the project’s Environmental Assessment Form, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, State Historic Preservation Office archaeological review, wildlife management plan and decommissioning plan had all passed muster by the Planning Board.
All that now remained to be finalized was the Special Use Permit. Representing the applicant, Peter McAuliffe of Omni Navitas Solar Energy Development, reminded the Planning Board that the regional power distributor, Central Hudson, is now phasing out its participation in an incentive plan offered by New York State to encourage the construction of commercial solar arrays. “The window is closing, due to declining demand,” McAuliffe warned. “We don’t want this dying on the vine after one-and-a-half years.”
“The applicant is speaking truthfully that the incentives are about to end,” said Planning Board member Keith Libolt as he made a motion to approve the site plan for the Lumens Holdings project, conditional upon the Town Board’s approval of the Special Use Permit. The Planning Board voted unanimously in favor of the project going forward.
The Town Board is expected to give the solar farm the final signoff at its meeting on Tuesday, July 13.