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Ridgeway resident worries about negative impacts from large solar project

Posted 10 January 2020 at 10:20 am

Editor:

The purpose of this letter is to express my complete and utter dismay regarding the proposal of a solar farm (totaling 11,000 solar panels) with a large lithium battery storage unit at Swett Road. There are several factors that I hope would be considered in regards to this monstrosity!

Our property is on Swett Road and is by the property where the solar farm is being proposed. In fact, my husband’s family once owned the very land the current owner is offering to lease to this solar panel company. We have resided in our home for the last 12 years. Our home was built in 1870 and is considered to be a family homestead.

Many family heirs were born and raised in this house, including my mother-in-law. We are raising our children in this home, as well. We have put a lot of heart and soul into updating our home, yet keeping some of that old farmhouse character, including the cobblestone foundation known to our area.

We were present at the initial meeting where the idea was proposed, after finding out about this that very same day. My first and immediate surprise was the fact that they are asking for a variance, going from 500 feet to 250 feet. Towards the end of the meeting the Town Board went into a closed session, so the public was asked to leave.

Upon exiting the meeting, there were two representatives from the company. They asked if we had any questions. Several of us stayed and had a discussion with them in the foyer. In the discussion, I asked one of the representatives why there needs to be such a high barrier between the properties and her response was, “Well, it’s electric and it’s highly dangerous.” This clearly is not something that one’s children should be able to walk right up to! That alone is an example of why Ridgeway has put 500 feet into place as the law. Asking for that to be literally cut in half is ludicrous.

In addition, I asked one of the representatives to please share the long-term health effects this may cause, as I heard her at the meeting list positive things about the company, but not one negative effect. She refused to answer. Then, I asked her if these emit radiation. She said household appliances emit radiation. So, we are comparing a mass of 11,000 solar panels to a cell phone, which has already been linked as a cancer-causing agent?  I asked her if there has been research done showing such data. She had nothing to say in response to that.

There are several homes in close proximity to this land that would endure such negative effects. In the many solar farm photographs/maps I have seen, most have no residences in the immediate circumference.

Not only am I concerned about the long-term health effects of the families in these residences, but I am concerned about the farm and forest land, as well. There is a large farm adjoining to the west of my property and the property site of the proposed solar panels. This farm may be several hundred acres large. It is sure to reap the negative impacts I keep reading about in regards to mass solar panels. In fact, the land the solar panels would be located on has been very fertile farm land for the past decade.

Also, there is a forest on the northern part of the property of the proposed solar panels. In this forest there is a pond, which would be very near the solar panels. I pray the forest and pond would be left untouched. However, they are sure to reap the negative impacts of the proposed solar panels, too.

The loss of all these acres of land and such negative impacts on the pond, forest land and farm land would surely be detrimental to the wildlife in our area (deer, foxes, Canadian geese, turkey, pheasants, birds, insects, etc.). Other wildlife, including the Earth’s already diminishing number of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds would face adverse effects, too!

Every single animal I have mentioned are animals I can vouch for seeing on or around this property! In fact, when I told my sister, who lives in the south, about this she said, “You mean that land where we see that wonderful night show of fireflies during the summertime will be gone?” I have read several articles, including ones on government websites that express concerns to farm and forest land from mass solar panels.

Further, what transpires if and when this company decides to remove the solar farm. How would the land be decommissioned to a usable state again? What is the negative impact from its removal?

We have several other concerns, as well. These include the fire radius, explosion radius, the glare from the solar panels, the upkeep of the landscaping surrounding the perimeter, how this will affect our property value, the short trees not truly blocking any view especially as you stand and look out our upstairs windows, the possibility of buzzing sounds, drainage, just to name a few.

At a second meeting, we were told that the company withdrew the variance request, and is simply tweaking their design. In asking what the law states, we were told that both the New York state law and local law are very new and vague.

My concerns are now two-fold: 1.) Why are the laws not clear and written succinctly before even entertaining these proposals and 2.) Why are there not laws indicating that these “farms” should not be built on top of residences?

I feel that residents in Ridgeway need to be apprised of this situation. There are several other proposals popping up. How many of these solar farms are there going to be?

If we don’t do something to stop the floodgate, it’s going to be too late! Our town will be surrounded by solar panels! What will this do to the agricultural economy? What about the ecology? We need to band together!

We need to demand the lawmakers make clear-cut laws! There is a public meeting Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 410 West Avenue. Please attend this meeting and let our voices be heard.

Sincerely,

Heidi Marciniak

Ridgeway