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Columbia Hearing Regards Solar Law

Herkimer County will review a proposed one-year moratorium law on large solar projects in the Town of Columbia.

If the county makes no comments or has minor suggestions, the Town Board will vote on adopting the local law at the March 9 meeting.

Last week’s Columbia Town Board meeting, attended by 25 to 30 people from the public, opened with a public hearing on the proposed law. Columbia adopted regulations on solar commercial farms in 2020, but wants a one-year hiatus to see if updates are needed.

EDF Renewable has been moving towards building a 2,200-acre solar panels and battery storage project in the town. A number of private leases with property owners have been signed, but the company has not applied to the state for a permit.

Because of the size of the project the town has no direct method of approval or regulation on the project.

The local law would be designed for large solar energy systems such as the one EDF is planning. The one-year ban on building in the town would start when the law is filed with New York state.

The proposed law would not apply to solar energy systems that have already obtained sit plan approval or other permits, or residential solar installations.

By video attorney Ben Wisniewski spoke about the process to adopt the law. He advised that Columbia run it by the county Planning Department in case it is challenged as a zoning law, which does require county review.

Wisniewski said the county has no authority to require changes, but…


The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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