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Wading River residents raise concerns about proposed energy storage facility

01/29/2019 5:00 AM |

An energy storage company that’s seeking to build a facility in Wading River will also keep a portion of the property as a farm in order to retain the farm vista, according to Steve Losquadro, the attorney representing both the company and property owner.

The land on the corner of Route 25A and Randall Road is currently leased by Bakewicz Farms and has been a farm dating back to the 1940s. The property owner, Manzi Homes, currently has preliminary approval from Brookhaven Town build a 14-lot residential subdivision, Mr. Losquadro said. But the property owner prefers to move forward with TradeWind Energy, the company seeking to build a battery storage facility, Mr. Losquadro said.

The Manzis realize that a residential subdivision will have a negative impact on school taxes, traffic and groundwater while the battery storage will provide about $1 million more in revenue to the Shoreham-Wading River School District, Mr. Losquadro said.

“Battery storage will have zero impact on noise, traffic and visual.” Mr. Losquadro said. “We plan to preserve the farm vista by keeping the farm on the south part of the property and the battery storage to the rear.”

The battery storage facility will be screened from view, he said.

Battery storage is not currently permitted anywhere in Brookhaven Town’s zoning, because it’s a new technology, he said. The town will need to change its zoning to allow the use, he said.

Wading River Civic Association President Sid Bail said he was asked by Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner to attend a private meeting with TradeWind Energy, Mr. Losquadro and energy consultant William Miller regarding TradeWind’s plans.

The property is on the Brookhaven Town portion of Wading River.

Mr. Losquadro said they invited Mr. Bail so that he could notify the civic association and get feedback on the proposal early on in the process. Mr. Losquadro said it was Mr. Bail who suggested retaining the farm vista on the property.

The civic association has another meeting scheduled for April 18 and TradeWind representatives are expected to attend.

At last Thursday’s Wading River Civic Association meeting, Mr. Bail said he was told by a TradeWind representative at the earlier meeting that there would be a “humming” sound coming from the battery storage, and that there could be up to 200 of the tractor trailer-sized batteries on the site.

“If I have to listen to a humming sound, they are going to end up having to buy my property,” said resident Donald Branker, who lives next door to the farm.

Mr. Losquadro said this is not correct.

“There’s been no determination of how many units will go on the site,” he said. As for the humming, he said “there will be no sound that can be heard by neighbors.”

Mr. Losquadro said he plans to take a tour of a battery storage facility in East Hampton later this year and will invite members of the civic association.

The battery storage facilities do not generate energy, they store it, he said.

“It’s really the ultimate green energy source,” he said. “It takes energy from the grid and stores it for times when it will be needed.”

The battery storage units “look like a tractor trailer storage container, but you won’t see it because it will screened, and landscaped and buffered,” he said.

At the civic association meeting, many of the approximately 30 residents expressed concerns about the battery storage plan.

Justin Bakewicz, whose family runs the farm on the property, urged people to support agriculture.

“It’s been a farm for years. Do you want to destroy open land or keep it a farm?” he asked.

One speaker suggested it should be put on the former Shoreham Nuclear Plant property.

Mr. Bail said he still has many questions about the proposal.

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