New K’hook solar farm rules inch toward daylight

VALATIE–The Kinderhook Town Board met for a short workshop meeting last week to discuss proposed changes to the town’s solar equipment zoning laws. A handful of residents showed up to the August 23 meeting and though the board had closed the public hearing on the proposals, those who attended did have a chance to comment.

At the public hearing earlier this month, the meeting room in the Martin H. Glynn Building was full. Residents who came that meeting voiced concerns about properties near their houses being used for solar farms. In the proposed zoning laws solar farms would be allowed in the town, but a group of homeowners on and near Whitney Lane that were the most vocal about their concerns learned that a solar farm could not be put on a property near their hoses due legal other restrictions.

“That issue has been taken care of,” Supervisor Pat Grattan said at the workshop meeting.

There were also people at the August 7 public hearing who took issue with the wording of a proposal that says, “The Planning Board may, in its discretion, waive or simplify any of the requirements set forth in this section… that the board deems are unnecessary or inappropriate for its review of an application.”

Councilman Tim Ooms, who reviewed these new zoning laws in the Town Board’s Codes Committee, said at the workshop that he still had a question about how solar farms would be taxed. He also said he wanted proposal to that says solar farms could not be built on prime agricultural land.

“I, too, was concerned about the taxes,” said Councilwoman Patsy Leader.

Solar farms are described as large portions of land used for solar panel arrays.

Ms. Leader also brought up a section of the proposed law that talks about the Planning Board using its discretion to waive requirements in an application, not just for solar farms but other solar equipment requirements like ground mounted panels.

Supervisor Grattan said it would be up to the Town Board to decide whether to “allow the Planning Board to have some discretion” in their decision making. “We trust the Planning Board,” he said later in the meeting.

Resident Meg Tadisco said of the plan to allow the Planning Board to exercise discretion about solar farms, “It’s not an unlimited power.” But she suggested the board word the proposed laws to require the Planning Board to identify any decision its members make to waive the solar equipment restrictions.

Another topic of discussion was having a solar overlay map. Town resident Bernadette Powis said the maps would be a good guide for the board to know where solar panels can go in the town.

Mr. Grattan closed the meeting after about a half-an-hour saying, “We’ve narrowed it down to what the issues are.” He said they would send those issues to the town’s attorney, who could not be at the workshop.

The attorney will update proposed zoning laws on solar equipment again based on what was discussed at the workshop. The Town Board has to vote to adopt the solar panel law revisions before they take effect.

The next town board meeting will be Monday, September 11 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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