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Public hearing to be held Sept. 20 on extending solar moratorium another year

The Riverhead Town Board voted last Wednesday to set a public hearing on legislation that would add another year to an existing moratorium on new solar projects in town. The hearing will be held Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. during the board’s regular meeting.

The Town Board enacted a moratorium on the development of commercial solar energy systems in town last October. An extension of that moratorium would give the town more time to evaluate regulations that minimize or mitigate negative impacts and to evaluate consistency with the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which is still incomplete. A resolution notes that “additional time is needed for the Town to adopt such additional regulations, local laws, amendment to zoning code [and] amendment to the Comprehensive Plan.”

There are currently five solar farms in Calverton, mostly along Edwards Avenue. The two most recently approved cover 199 and 252 acres, respectively, and some Calverton residents have been calling for a stop on solar farms and other industrial development in that area.

Several residents last Wednesday argued the moratorium should be expanded to include other major projects in town, such as potential battery systems and warehouses. 

“When a solar moratorium was first proposed in 2020, I and others urged you to consider — and you heard again this evening — consideration on reworking the language to make the moratorium a broader one and a much more worthwhile effort,” said former councilwoman Barbara Blass of Jamesport.

She added: “Although the moratorium is designed to address the proliferation of commercial solar facilities in Calverton, please also consider that the town has received a myriad of other applications for industrial development projects in the same hamlet, which brings the possibility of significant environmental impacts, collectively can redefine the character of the community. This was said two years ago.”