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In unanimous vote, Town Board approves solar moratorium

The Riverhead Town Board formally adopted a year-long moratorium on the development of commercial solar energy production facilities at its meeting Tuesday night. 

The vote was 4-0, with Councilman Frank Beyrodt abstaining. 

The moratorium would prohibit new solar farms while the town seeks to identify the best locations for them through the ongoing comprehensive plan update, which officials hope will be done in 12 months. 

The moratorium does not apply to rooftop solar panels or to solar units that are part of a request for proposals from PSEG Long Island or LIPA. 

“The people of Calverton are really tired of seeing solar panels,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. 

Mike Foley of Reeves Park suggested the moratorium go beyond solar farms to include any retail or industrial developments that do not involve filling vacant retail or industrial space. 

Town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said the board could expand the moratorium in the future if it chooses. 

Kathy McGraw of Northville said she filed an ethics complaint against a Town Board member over a possible conflict of interest on the NextEra solar farm, which the Town Board recently approved. 

She did not identify which board member she meant, but Mr. Beyrodt has abstained on votes regarding solar projects, including the moratorium resolution.  

Ms. McGraw said the town has still not responded to her ethics complaint. She said the town ethics law is flawed in that it only requires elected officials to disclose the conflict and doesn’t require them to recuse themselves.