Solar zoning law rejected by Arkwright board
ARKWRIGHT — The latest Arkwright Town Board meeting became very heated over one of the three proposed local laws the board voted on.
The town’s proposed Solar Energy Law was put to a vote at the recent meeting, but things did not go even the slightest bit smoothly. After a public hearing on the law, which described the main points of regulation to personal use solar energy and to large scale principal use solar energy systems, the board voted.
However, town Supervisor Brian McAvoy was the only vote in favor of the law, which did not pass. Town Board Members Chris Jackson and Lynn Bedford both voted against the law, while Bruce Gustafson abstained after the law was already not going to pass regardless of his vote. Board Member Larry Ball was late for the meeting and therefore was not in attendance for the vote.
“(The law) is for solar zoning. It’s not saying we accept solar. It’s saying when solar comes, it comes with this sort of guidance,” McAvoy said. “… All the dang stuff we talked about 20 times in here to protect the neighbors, and I’ve got two councilmen sitting here saying ‘I don’t care about protecting my neighbors.'”
Bedford immediately responded to McAvoy’s comment. “Don’t put words our mouths,” Bedford said. “You’re telling me what I’m saying? Excuse me? I have a different point of view, and the people elected me to represent a point of view. My point of view may be different than your point of view. I don’t like being badgered about my point of view.”
McAvoy pressed Bedford on her point of view. “How does your point of view manage the next person who wants to put solar in his backyard? How does your point of view address that,” McAvoy asked. Bedford responded, “It’s not up for discussion. I was asked to vote yes or no, and I voted.”
Jackson responded with a direct objection to the law in question, claiming the proposed 300-foot setback for large scale use systems was not enough of a setback. “If 300 was set to 500, I would’ve voted yes – and I’ve said 500 all along,” said Jackson. “I don’t want this to become the same thing the wind turbines did.”
McAvoy reiterated his frustration after a member of the public asked a question. “It’s frustrating, frankly. We put a lot of work into this and you think you have an understanding,” McAvoy said. “… If we come back with 500-foot setbacks, will it pass that time? That’s probably the next step.”
The other two proposed laws on the agenda for the meeting — a law regarding Cannabis dispensary regulation and a law regarding code enforcement requirements — both passed without issue. Bedford was the only vote against each proposed law, as McAvoy, Jackson, Gustafson, and Ball — who arrived after the solar law was rejected — all voted yes.
Ball noted he voted against allowing cannabis dispensaries in Arkwright altogether, but given that the vote at hand was only to regulate cannabis dispensaries now that they will be permitted in Arkwright, he voted in favor of the law. Among the highlights of the cannabis dispensaries law include the requirement of a special use permit, limited hours of operation, no drive-through service, no outdoor storage, 500-foot setbacks from any site where children regularly congregate, and the dispensary cannot be held in a residence itself. Many of the regulations that apply to the operation of cannabis dispensaries are set by New York State.
Among the highlights of the code enforcement law that was passed include the establishment of a code enforcement officer – which Arkwright already utilized- and the Town Board’s oversight over code enforcement and periodic review of permit rates.
The next regular meeting of the Town Board will also serve as an organizational meeting, scheduled for 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16 at the Arkwright Town Hall.