The ZBA’s decision on the Eden project postponed again

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GLOVERSVILLE – Solar developers Eden Renewables will have to wait at least two months before they get a decision from the city’s zoning appeal board for the company’s request for a “utility variance” to allow the company to build a $ 10 million, 32-acre, 7.5-megawatt Solar Farm on the site of the former Pine Brook Golf Club.

City ZBA, through its attorney Andrew J. Leja, sent Eden Renewables 11 questions aimed at gathering more information on why the ZBA should grant the company a “utility variance.” Rather than keeping the project at the typical and significantly more difficult level. , test for variance of zoning use.

Representatives of the Eden Renewables company told the ZBA on Wednesday evening that they received the board’s questions on July 4 and have not yet had time to answer them, but have agreed to provide answers. written prior to the August 4 ZBA meeting.

At the June 2 ZBA meeting, ZBA members said they needed more time to review Eden Renewables’ request for a “public utility gap” because they had received the information just before Memorial Day.

Gillian Black, project development manager for Eden Renewables, said he has not encountered the level of regulatory approval difficulty this project has experienced in other places in New York State, but he do not give up.

“It’s unusual to have to go through so many city councils trying to get the same project passed and approved,” Black said. “We went out of our way at the request of various city officials to show how we could incorporate additional benefits for the community. “

Eden Renewables argued that its proposal should be accepted under the legal standard established in New York State case law for public utility discrepancies.

Eden argued that New York State has required 6 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power generation capacity to be installed in the New York State power grid by 2025, and currently developers at statewide are reaching about half of that target, demonstrating the need for more solar power. installation. One gigawatt of electricity is equivalent to 1,000 megawatts.

During the meeting, ZBA President Jeffrey Ashe of 22 Wheaton Ave. recused himself because he lives near the solar project, and ZBA Vice President David Esler of 43 Oakland. Ave., took control of the meeting. He started the meeting by saying that he personally supports solar power and believes in global warming, but as a member of the ZBA he is charged with protecting the city’s existing zoning rules and the overall plan for the city. town, which calls for promoting residential housing in the Pine Brook Golf Club neighborhood.

During Eden’s presentation, Black explained that the golf course site is near important electrical connections that make it a good place to build solar farms. Eden’s business model includes planting wildflowers and bringing in beekeepers to make the location more environmentally friendly than just planting grass.

He also brought back the idea of ​​using goats to cut the grass rather than noisier lawnmowers, although Eden previously said the goats were not on the table due to an order to the city against them.

After about an hour’s presentation, the app was left open until next month.

After the meeting, Esler described what he and the other ZBA members have yet to see from Eden before they hold a public hearing for the ZBA’s decision to grant or deny a regular use waiver or a derogation from the use of public services. If the framework for the public hearing is decided at the ZBA meeting on August 4, the final decision on the waiver will be postponed to September 1.

“We’re looking for information right now,” Esler said. “We want to see the case law for solar. I think there is case law for wind turbines and cell towers, but I’m not sure about solar. If they don’t prove they are a public service then it becomes the [regular use variance] test.”

During the meeting, ZBA member Greg Hitchcock of 10 Apple St. said he supported solar power, but was responsible for upholding the city’s comprehensive plan.

ZBA member Ronald Sutler, of 10 Clyde St., said he needed Eden to provide case law that supports the company’s argument that it should be treated as a public service.

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