Duanesburg updates solar law ahead of Thursday public hearing

A solar array surrounded by trees
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DUANESBURG — The Town Board has tweaked a proposed ordinance that would regulate large solar arrays built in town ahead of Thursday’s public hearing on the legislation.

The updates to the proposed law were incorporated following a review by the county’s Planning Commission. Many of the revisions are minor, but there are several significant updates, including language requiring groundwater testing of private wells and for solar arrays to undergo annual inspections.

Revisions to the law come after the Town Board held a public hearing last month to gather input on the proposed ordinance introduced in December that was drafted over a monthslong period during a moratorium prohibiting the construction of solar arrays.

A special committee was appointed to review the town’s current solar ordinance, which was adopted in 2016 and updated in 2021. Committee members reviewed more than a dozen ordinances already in place by some municipalities and held a series of stakeholder meetings to gather additional input.

The updated legislation comes as municipalities throughout the region continue to address concerns around solar arrays at a time when the state is seeking to bolster renewable energy to meet its climate change goals. Rotterdam, last year, adopted a 12-month moratorium prohibiting the construction of solar arrays in order to update its regulations.

In Duanesburg, much of the town’s original proposal remains the same, including language restricting large-scale solar arrays to the town’s R-2 Residential/Agricultural zoning district as well as the C-1 Commercial and C-2 Manufacturing and Light Industrial zones.

A 200-foot buffer between a parcel where a solar array would sit and a nonparticipating parcel also remains in place, as does the requirement for a 450-foot buffer between an occupied residence and any solar equipment, according to the proposed law.

The proposal also requires developers to establish an escrow account in an amount that would be established by either the Planning Board or Town Board to pay for the town’s engineering, legal and environmental review costs, construction inspection and monitoring of the facility.

New to the law is language that would allow either the town’s code enforcement officer or building inspector to enter a solar energy facility with 24 hours notice to ensure the system is in compliance with all requirements. The language also includes a provision that would require the system to undergo annual inspections by a state certified engineer, which would be paid for using funds from the escrow account.

The updated law also includes a provision requiring private wells within a 1,000 feet of the solar facility be tested prior to construction of the system and at a five-year interval while the system is in operation.

It’s unclear when lawmakers are expected to adopt the proposed law.

The Town Board will meet 7 p.m. Thursday at the Duanesburg Town Hall 5853 Western Turnpike.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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