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Some speakers argue proposed solar moratorium is ‘too little, too late’ at public hearing

A proposal to enact a 12-month moratorium on commercial solar energy production systems in the Calverton area was criticized by some speakers as being too little, too late, while other speakers pitched new solar projects that would operate on rooftops and on the town landfill, which is in Calverton.

The Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday on the proposed moratorium. 

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said the proposed moratorium would not effect rooftop solar systems. It would effect solar projects that are part of a request for proposals for renewable energy projects. 

The moratorium is meant to be done in conjunction with the town’s master plan update, so that the town can determine where solar would be fit or not fit, and then amending the zoning code accordingly. 

The Town Board had proposed a similar moratorium last year but it ran into opposition at a public hearing, where many speakers said it was necessary to support renewable energy.

That moratorium did not include the two biggest solar energy farms that were pending before the board. 

There are 660 acres of solar projects that have recently been approved in recent years in the Calverton area. No active solar farm applications are now pending.

Former Councilwoman Barbara Blass, in a letter read out loud at the meeting, said the proposed moratorium is “seven years and 700 acres” too late, and the town should have considered a moratorium before it allowed projects like NextEra’s to be approved. She said the Town Planning Board had asked the Town Board to consider a moratorium on the basis of how fast solar proposals were coming in. 

Ms. Blass said one of the town officials was quoted saying that now is the perfect time for a moratorium because there are no active proposals. 

“That’s an embarrassing comment, and one you would only hear in Riverhead,” Ms. Blass said. 

Councilwoman Catherine Kent said she opposed the first moratorium because it didn’t include the two largest projects — NextEra and Riverhead Solar 2 — which were still pending. 

The state led the review Riverhead Solar 2 because it was over 25 megawatts.

Ryan Madden of the Long Island Progressive Coalition urged the board to support renewable energy. 

Maziar Palaeli of IPP Solar in Manhattan said they have a rooftop solar project coming up and said the state is encouraging energy storage, as well as renewable energy. 

Officials said rooftop projects are not impacted by the proposed moratorium.

Another speaker, Daniel Sullivan, said he has a proposal to put solar energy on the Town landfill on Youngs Avenue, which would provide a direct benefit to residents. 

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar asked he present the proposal at a work session.