Solar Farm
Carson Power’s rendering of the controversial solar farm (in white) that was just approved by the Pine Plains Town Planning Board for construction at 454 Bean River Road. Composite image by The Millerton news
Carson Power’s rendering of the controversial solar farm (in white) that was just approved by the Pine Plains Town Planning Board for construction at 454 Bean River Road. Composite image by The Millerton news

Pine Plains solar project heads to court

PINE PLAINS — The controversial solar farm project at Pulvers Corners will come before a judge in state Supreme Court in Carmel on Tuesday, March 19, where a group of residents is seeking an injunction prohibiting work on the site.

The group, Preserve Pine Plains, filed an Article 78 action against the town Planning Board and certain property owners and developers of the project, which envisions a 10MW Tier 3 solar complex consisting of 24,000 solar panels on farmland at Pulvers Corners and located at 454 Bean River Road.

Article 78 proceedings put the action of an official or agency under review by a court.

Carson pilot program

Meanwhile, the Town Board on Thursday, Feb. 22, held a special meeting at Town Hall to discuss a pilot program with Carson Power LLC, the New York City firm proposing the Tier 3 solar farm, that would amount to a “payment in lieu of taxes” to the town.

Town Supervisor Brian Walsh said the program would provide a payment to the town “above and beyond land taxes.”

At Thursday’s board meeting, the board members voted against accepting the initial monetary terms of the pilot agreement with Carson, and said they plan to retain an independent consultant to assess the situation.

Meantime, the board voted to halt any tree clearing on the site until there is a signed pilot agreement.

According to a primer published by the American Bar Association, payment in lieu of taxes agreements are gaining popularity with alternative energy projects like wind and solar. Under them, governments can assign tax liabilities based on the assessed value, or amount of electricity generated, or based on a rate per megawatt.

Another path is for local taxing authorities to negotiate a payment agreement. Walsh indicated that the pilot program with Carson could lead to a yearly payment.

March 19 court date

The future of the Pulvers Corners project will be the subject of oral arguments before Supreme Court Justice Gina C. Capone on March 19, following filing of memorandums scheduled through the beginning of March by sets of attorneys involved in the case.

Mindy Zoghlin, of the Zoghlin Group LLC in Rochester, who represents Preserve Pine Plains, filed in support of the group’s petition Friday, Feb. 16.

The group claims the Town Board failed to take a “hard look” at “significant adverse impacts” with respect to community character and town planning documents. It also claims the Planning Board failed to take a “hard look” at the project’s impacts on plants and animals and on aesthetic resources and “ignored identified areas of environmental concerns.”

Those named in the suit, besides the Planning Board, are Pulvers Corner Solar 1 LLC, Pulvers Corners Solar 2 LLC, Nexamp Inc., Carson Power, Carol Giardino, Diane Weck, Lucie M. Giardino and John Does.

The town is represented by Warren S. Replansky, and is expected to file a response Monday, March 4.

Early this month, New York State’s Office of Renewable Energy Siting denied Hecate Energy LLC’s bid to build a 60MW solar farm, known as Shepherd’s Run, at the at the intersection of routes 23 and 7 in the Town of Copake. In the denial, the agency granted the Town of Copake’s move to stop the project because the company had lost control of land initially included in the project. Hecate may reapply to build a smaller 42MW facility.

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