SWR BOE to draft letter opposing process over solar farm

11/19/2014 10:00 AM |

After one woman spoke out at a recent Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education meeting, and members of the community have spoken at large in opposition to a 60-acre solar farm near the district’s middle school, the board seems poised to respond in opposition — not necessarily to the solar farm itself — but rather how it was approved.

The solar project, set to be situated on DeLalio Sod Farm located across the street from Prodell Middle School, was OK’d at an October meeting by the Brookhaven Town Planning Board. However, school board members say that they had not been appropriately informed about the situation before the vote occurred.

And they’ve yet to be informed about it firsthand since a request for information from the town has so far received no response, board president William McGrath said during Tuesday’s school board meeting at the high school.

“I got no feedback from the Brookhaven Town officials I contacted,” Mr. McGrath said. “The usual stonewall.”

Shoreham resident Michelle Sterling spoke Tuesday before the board — yet again after asking the board earlier this month to draft a letter opposing the solar array — and painted a dark picture of what might occur if the project goes as planned.

“Aside from the fact that it’s hazardous to our health, as far as the toxins and radiation, it’s also scary that middle school kids will be passing this by on their way to school and on their way home with just a 6-foot chain link fence separating them,” she said. “Kids going to climb over that fence.”

Ms. Sterling also mentioned that the company which has proposed building the solar panels, Salt Lake City-based sPower, had previously proposed giving the district $90,000 to $100,000 in payments in lieu of taxes. The board was unaware of the funds — or, at least, the promise of them.

Board members again did not respond to Ms. Sterling’s health concerns, though said the process through which the project was approved was what they took issue with.

“While I personally think what the town and county did was subversive, I myself am not opposed to the solar panels,” said board member Richard Pluashau. “My concern is that this was done under strange, secretive circumstances. And the financial impact that should be going to the district is not happening. I’m more concerned about that than the other claims.”

Planning Board Chairman Vincent Pascale told Newsday in October that after much deliberation and consideration of allowances on the land, the board decided it was an allowable use.

“We did all our checking,” he said.

A group of homeowners near the sod farm have retained a lawyer to fight the proposal, Ms. Sterling said at Tuesday’s meeting. The school board agreed to speak with the district’s lawyer to draft a letter voicing its displeasure with the approval process for the solar farm.

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