Solar showdown: Families continue fight against massive solar project

December 05, 2018 11:22 PM

On Wednesday, the discussion continued surrounding a solar power plant in the Town of Farmington. 

Delaware River Solar wants to build the 30-acre solar plant on private land that it would lease from a farmer on Yellow Mills Road. 

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That private homeowner spoke Wednesday at the meeting, assuring neighbors the land would still be used for farming and not be harmed in the 35-year lease. 

The company claims the power would stay local and power about 1,200 homes. However, at Wednesday's meeting, the Town Planning Board says families in the area would also get a 10 percent discount on their energy bills. 

The Town Planning Board needs to look over three applications for the project which include the subdivision of land, special use permit required for the project and a preliminary site plan. 

On Wednesday, the normally empty meeting was filled with dozens of families hoping to pull the plug on the project. 

Because of the big turnout, the meeting was moved to the highway department. 

"The master plan for the northeast quadrant calls for open, rural, agricultural, non-industrial and non-commercial," said neighbor Jim Falanga, who lives near the proposed site. 

Falanga has lived there for 22 years and says this would ruin the farm in Farmington.

"The thought of an eyesore of 40 plus acres eating up our prime agricultural land is hard to imagine," said Falanga. 

Meanwhile, the former Farmington Town Supervisor Jim Foley says town code actually prohibits the project going forward.

"If you intend to place a plant on agricultural land, you have to demonstrate that there's no feasible alternative use of that land," explained Foley. "I can't believe that the only use of prime farm land is to build a power plant." 

The company looked at various sites for the project but tell News10NBC this land meets a number of qualifications needed.

"It sits on a three-phase power line so we have to tie into those. It's close to a substation, so it has very good interconnection costs which we pay for," explained Daniel Compitello, project manager with Delaware River Solar. "Everything looked great." 

Families told the board they aren't against solar power, just the large project being proposed. Many even admitted that if the project was much smaller, they wouldn't oppose it. 

Other issues raised included noise concerns, environmental hazards, property value impacts and damaging the aesthetics of the rural area.   

The Town Planning Board will be having another public hearing about the project next month on Jan. 16. 


Beth Cefalu

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