The Stony Point Town Board passed a law at the end of January allowing for large-scale solar generating facilities.
“We’re always looking for clean, safe, renewable energy sources,” Stony Point Supervisor Jim Monaghan said. “Solar energy has been getting more and more popular.”
Monaghan said many residents in Stony Point have already opted to use solar panels at their homes, but there were no laws in place to allow a large solar panel field within the township.
“There’s a lot of solar companies that reach out to municipalities,” Monaghan said. “We’re looking to public and private partnerships to see if there’s a way to bring solar energy to Stony Point.”
Applications for large-scale solar generating facilities must include site, property maintenance and decommissioning plans, according to the new law.
The law also accounts for the size and coverage of the lots, glare, tree maintenance and removal, the height of the panels and proximity to roadways, buffer zones for residential zones and minimal view-blockage for neighboring homes.
Monaghan said one of the difficulties that Stony Point faces is they do not have any large tracts of public land that would be appropriate for a solar field.
“There’s limited areas that we have in Stony Point,” Monaghan said. “There’s only a few areas where people have large properties.”
Green Street Solar Power approached Marian Shrine in 2016 to lease for 25 years 15 acres of open land adjacent to Don Bosco Lane.
Mia Behm, a spokeswoman for the Bronx-based company, said in an email in 2017 that the company was proposing a $4-million, 1,800-kilowatt solar farm with 5,100 solar panels.
Father James McKenna said the field was suitable because it has no trees, but could be problematic due to a lack of buffer zone and visibility from the houses.
“The Shrine has no objections to be able to have this particular thing on this property,” McKenna said. “It’s not going to take the place of Indian Point but it is another option they want to give the local community.”
Monaghan said this is step forward in the conversation surrounding energy production in the county related to the impending closing of Indian Point.
“We don’t want to rely on foreign energy,” Monaghan said. “Not only as a community but as a country, we have to come up with (an alternative).”
McKenna said he has not heard back from the company since the law was passed. The solar field is not necessary for the Shrine to stay operational, and any profits from the field would go toward the retirement of elderly priests, he said.
If the solar field is installed, Marian Shrine would lose their tax exemption for the part of the property that would house the panels, according to Monaghan. McKenna said that the company that leases the land would be responsible for the taxes.
McKenna said the grid would be able to support about 300 homes in addition to subsidizing some of the energy used by the Shrine.
A few years back, Clarkstown installed a solar panel field on 13-acres of a former landfill.
“We’re very impressed with what Clarkstown did with their landfill,” Monaghan said.
Monaghan said the Town Board held several public hearings and kept the law on the agenda for a significant amount of time in order to get public input.
“It’s something we didn’t rush,” he said. “It would be nice to … take advantage of clean, safe renewable energy.”