Town council adopts new solar law

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The town council voted to adopt a revised law governing commercial solar projects at its May meeting. File photo

GREENVILLE — The town council voted at its May meeting to adopt modifications to the local law governing commercial solar projects in the town.

The public hearing was held April 18, but the vote on the law was tabled pending approval by the Greene County Planning Board.

“We tabled approving Local Law No. 2, the solar law, at last month’s public hearing because we hadn’t received from the county their blessings,” Town Supervisor Paul Macko said at the May 16 meeting of the town council. “It came after the meeting.”

Town Councilman Joel Rauf made the motion to approve the amended solar law, seconded by Councilman John Bensen. The law was adopted unanimously.

The new solar law amends the existing regulation that was originally adopted in 2018, and was drafted by the planning board in conjunction with input from town attorney Tal Rappleya and several members of the town board.

The changes only apply to commercial properties, not solar energy generated at individual homes.

Greenville and other communities in the county have become increasingly popular sites for commercial solar projects, with several sited or planned in Greenville, Coxsackie and Coeymans in neighboring Albany County.

When planning board chairman Don Teator presented the town board with the proposed changes in April, he said there wasn’t one particular issue that prompted the revisions to the existing law, but rather the changing nature of the solar industry and the community’s attempts to regulate it.

The modified law clarifies several issues that may arise, including clarification on the requirement that commercial solar facilities have “minimal adverse impact” on the natural, environmental and historic resources of the town. The new regulation also mandates that solar projects be designed and constructed to be “as compatible as possible with the character of the surrounding community.”

Changes to the commercial solar law also include the timeframe for a developer to add trees and landscaping to a site, modifications to how toxic and other hazardous materials are handled, and how soil samples are collected for testing, among other regulations.

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