A review of community solar applications has continued as concerns were raised by neighbors close to the planned sites. The applications currently under review at the Town of Torrey Zoning Board of Appeals are for a 15-megawatt farm at Hansen Point Road known as the Norbut Solar Farm project and another previously approved project.
The Norbut project was originally brought to the brought in November with a proposal for an area variance. The request on the community solar application hoped to alter the town’s code on area variance from 20% to 28%. This would allow for the efficient development of solar arrays on 106-acres of open land. Based on the application, each site is expected to occupy approximately 30-acres each.
The proposed Norbut Solar Farm wouldn’t be the first to the area as the planned location sits next to an approved 7-megawatt farm. The installation, owned by Climbing Bines Hop Farm and Craft Ale Co. owner Chris Hansen, will be developed on 30 acres and will serve a similar purpose as the Norbut Solar Farm. The push for community solar is to increase the opportunities for homeowners and small businesses to enjoy discounted electric rates. However, much of the opposition against the Norbut project and Hansen’s garden has come from homeowners.
After the applications were filed, neighbors expressed concern over how the project would affect the agricultural land and the visual appeal. Homeowners fear the 70-acres of solar arrays will degrade the neighboring communities. One resident, Paula Edelman, had explicit concerns over the view her farm has of Seneca Lake. According to Edelman, that view is a staple of the property, which she inherited from her father.
Even if Norbut can overcome the zoning issues, the Town of Torrey requires a 20% bond for the site’s inevitable decommissioning in the future. Dan Huntington, Norbut’s Business Development Manager, fears that the 20% obligation could kill the project before it even takes off. The next step is to request a change of law, though Code Enforcement Officer for Torrey, Dwight James, stated the town’s attorney explained that any board could not alter those requirements.