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Chautauqua County Agriculture And Farmland Protection Board Discuss Solar Projects

Solar projects were a main topic of conversation during the latest meeting of the Chautauqua County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board.

A proposed solar project in Sheridan was discussed, including whether or not the land was prime for agricultural use, the size of the land, and the fact that it is located next to the Dunkirk airport.

“The planning board has been given a plan,” board member Brian Aldrich said. “There’s a lot of issues with this. It’s not conforming to the local laws. It’ll be a while. I also question — I mean I can look out my window here and pretty much see where they’re going to be putting it in — this is not prime agricultural land.”

Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development, said the IDA is aware of the project but like all of the projects, they are forced to work at the whim of the local municipality. The board thought the project seemed to be a producer looking to take his least productive land out of rotation, but as it was still at the municipality level, did not have any more details.

Continuing on the solar projects discussions, the next project to review was in the town of Clymer, and owned by Carl Neckers. It was determined that the land Neckers is looking to start a solar farm on is part of the county agricultural district, but has not been approved at the local level yet.

Fred Croscut, chairperson of the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, said the land was productive for agriculture. Other concerns raised included how the land matched up with the local zoning map and the problem of runoff because of the land being on a high elevation. The Department of Environmental Conservation is required to do a review.

Another large topic of conversation was the current Ag District eight-year review. The review allows municipalities in District 7 to add or remove land in the area to the ag district.

Lauren Sharp with the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development has been working on notifying the municipalities involved, which includes; the towns of Clymer, French Creek, Harmony, Mina, North Harmony and Sherman.

“So far from my meetings with the municipalities, they are very thankful to get this information and some are ‘yes, we are missing farms that are in our community’, so they are reaching out, so hopefully we get a few requests,” Sharp said.

Any requests or comments the board receives, Sharp estimated, will be reviewed at the April meeting with a tentative public hearing to take place in June.

Source: https://www.post-journal.com/news/local-news/2023/03/county-agriculture-and-farmland-protection-board-discuss-solar-projects/

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