New Pine Plains Herald

Solar Moratorium Elicits Strong Opinions at Town Board Meeting



Pine Plains Town Board: Madelin Dafoe, Town Clerk (left); Sarah Jones; Brian Walsh, Town Supervisor; Robert Ambrose; Don Bartles; and Matt Zick. Credit: Bob Barnett.

A proposal to enact an eight-month moratorium on new commercial solar projects in Pine Plains drew strong opinions at the monthly Town Board meeting held July 20 in the Town Hall.  

Warren Replansky, the town’s attorney, began the discussion by noting that there was an ambiguity in the original draft of the moratorium, which was intended to exempt projects that have already been proposed under the existing solar law. He has revised the moratorium draft to make it clear that it exempts existing proposed projects, not just those that with completed applications. That includes the Carson Power project at Pulvers Corners 

Allison Galliher speaking in favor of an expanded solar moratorium. Credit: Bob Barnett

Homeowners with properties that are near the proposed Carson Power project spoke up in favor of the moratorium—adding that it should be amended to include the Carson Power project. Allison Galliher, who lives on Skunks Misery Road, began her comment by stating that her house is the only one for which Pulvers Corners solar panels would be visible. “It seems like everyone on the Town Board wants to push Carson Power through, but Carson Power never lived here,” she said. She spoke of building a house, raising children, wanting to stay in the community. “These other projects—the library, Stewart’s, the Stissing Center—will benefit the community. This project will take down a lot of local habitat. It’s not benefitting us.” Her husband; another neighbor next to the proposed solar farm, Jacquie Elliott, who lives on Bean River Road; and Daniel Aronstein, who lives on Prospect Hill Road, also spoke in favor of an expanded version of the moratorium.

Kevin Walsh, who is running for a seat on the Town Board, spoke against the moratorium, praising solar projects as a necessary change. “We need to offset the use of oil,” he said. “We tend to stifle solar when someone does something big, but you can’t do it with just rooftop solar. A solar farm here will not affect the quality of life in Pine Plains, but it plays a vital role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Kevin Walsh, candidate for Town Board seat in November, spoke out against the moratorium. Credit: Bob Barnett.

The moratorium proposal has been sent to the Pine Plains Planning Board, noted Town Supervisor Brian Walsh, but the Town Board has not yet received comments back. So it was not able to vote on the proposed moratorium this month. It will be considered at the next Town Board meeting on August 17.  

In other news:   

  • The volunteer fireman local law, which exempts these volunteers from local taxes, was ambiguous about lighting district and water district taxes, stated Replansky. The board voted not to exempt these taxes. There was no public comment.  
  • A resolution on the town library’s petition to make its budget a ballot issue was tabled. It was determined that the petition had 154 signatures, well past the 109 needed to add it to the ballot. It will be submitted, as required by law. No town board vote is necessary. There was no public comment.  
  • The board tabled a proposal to provide police services to the town of Stanford, billed at $85 an hour. The board will send comments to town lawyer Replansky to incorporate into a proposal, and also send a copy to the town of Stanford for comment. Related issues, such as the billing rate for administrative roles, will be considered. There was no public comment. 
  • A proposal to abolish the current elected tax assessors, to be replaced by an appointed assessor, was discussed. The appointed assessor would have a term of six years. Replansky stated that the “vast majority” of towns have moved to appointed assessors. The board voted to open the issue to public comment at the next scheduled meeting on August 17.  
  • The water/engineer’s report noted that the current water meters, both software and hardware, are 15 years old, and the company that manages them, Neptune, won’t support them after January 2024. It was proposed to move to a new cloud-based system that will allow daily data for each meter. The cost, approximately $12,750, was approved. It can be accommodated in the existing budget for this year. 
  • Three proposals submitted to build dugouts for the town’s baseball field have come in at over twice the estimate of $70,000. It was suggested that the town consider a different, less expensive, design with a chain link fence instead of a mortar wall, perhaps with a metal backing. That option will be presented at the next board meeting.  
  • A proposal to allow a flea market on town property to benefit the Willow Roots foundation was approved. It will permitted twice over a month, likely on weekend days.  

The board went into executive session and returned, adjourning the meeting. The next Town Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall on August 17 

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