Letters to the Editor - 1-25-24

Questioning Pine Plains’ solar decision

I was a resident of Pine Plains last year and attended every Planning Board meeting regarding the Carson project.

I oppose the Pine Plains Planning Board’s decision to greenlight the Carson solar project. This is because they did not follow the PB’s lawyer’s publicly offered legal advice at the March 22nd meeting — (at the 30 minute mark on the video at the Planning Board’s YouTube page) — when the lawyer clearly recommended that the Planning Board get Carson to “do a balloon test with balloons, or something akin to a balloon test…with balloons or sticks that can be observed from a distance”... “before trees leafed-out” [because it] “would be the best way to evaluate the visual impacts.”

Instead of this test —which would have also allowed the entire community a see the actual visual impact the proposed project would have for the 6 months of the year when the trees are leafless — the PB substituted a CAD generated 3D-simulation made by Saratoga Associates — a firm hired by Carson.

In my opinion, the CAD information generated by the subcontractor and presented to the PB minimized the visual impact, and that’s why I believe the PB decided it was not a serious adverse impact.

What makes the PB’s decision faulty, in my opinion, is not just that they disobeyed their lawyer’s public advice, and not just that they relied on a simulation, but they also relied on a simulation that the consultant from Saratoga Associates admitted at the meeting on May 10th. He said that their 3D simulation relied on source LIDAR to generate their 3D simulations that was not as accurate as the information gathered by Hudson Valley Forestry, the firm hired by Carson to perform an actual tree survey at the site. Saratoga admitted that in the LIDAR they used, the tree height was an approximation — (as were the width of the trees and the leaves on the trees I might add). He said — (at the 50 minute mark) — “the on-site physical survey of trees of the location was more accurate than the information they used to create the 3D-simulation of community impact.”

This means that the PPPB not only disobeyed their lawyer’s public advice, but then chose to rely on a simulation generated by the applicant’s subcontractor who admitted they had relied on less than fully accurate data. This makes their decision not to require a SEQRA review, and to skip Environmental Impact Study, completely inadequate and invalid.

In my opinion, if this faulty decision is allowed to stand by the Court, it will make it easier for large, industrial, commercial/for-profit solar projects to proliferate — NOT just in Pine Plains, but in the surrounding rural communities, despoiling the beauty, serenity, the agricultural character of our region.

Other towns in our area have taken legal steps to ensure that large, commercialprojects like Carson do not proliferate. The Pine Plains Town Board has instituted a moratorium on large commercial solar projects to investigate what they can do to strengthen their protections, but they allowed Carson project to proceed before the strengthened protections take effect.

So now it is up to the Court to do the right thing and pause the project, order a SEQRA review to accurately measure its impacts, and protect what we all love about this area, and the reason we live here.

Daniel Aronstein


Support for Vicki Doyle on Amenia board

I am writing to support Vicki Doyle to take the seat of Leo Blackman who has now become our Supervisor. I have known of Vicki’s hard work on the behalf of our town for the past 20 years. She has worked tirelessly to support fairness in government, and has done so much more with the Enhancement committee, Earth Day Clean Up, and her work to encourage young people to express their creativity. She ran for office this fall and lost by 10 votes. Isn’t she the perfect candidate to fill this seat until November?

Two of our Town Board members are offering other candidates, but one has to ask why? One of these candidates won by only 10 votes and I hope he can remember he was elected to represent us. She is the most qualified candidate for this position and I hope rational behavior will prevail.

Marsha Kaufman


Amenia Pancake Breakfast success

On Sunday, Jan. 21, the Amenia Fire Company sponsored its monthly Pancake Breakfast. We were pleased to have a nice crowd of 203 people in attendance for our annual meal. We rely on the breakfasts to raise needed money for general operations and we always appreciate the support of the community. We thank everyone who attended our meal, and we will return again on Feb. 18.

Andy Murphy, on behalf of the Breakfast Committee of Amenia Fire Co. and Auxiliary


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