Solar law approved with minor changes
By Lauren Zaepfel
The Town of Wheatfield is proceeding with plans to install a fence around the former Niagara Sanitation Landfill, which the state Department of Environmental Conservation found contains hazardous chemicals.
The town board voted in favor of designating $76,976 of its appropriated fund balance toward paying its portion of the cost for a fence around the site. The other $75,000 was secured as a grant by New York State Sen. Robert G. Ortt last year.
The fence is estimated to cost a total of $151,976.
Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said the cost is only "theoretical" at this point, but the board did give engineering company Wendel the go ahead to seek bids for the project. "Once it's designed and once those bids are put out, then we'll have a real number. It might be more; it might be less," Cliffe said. "There's even a chance that DEC is going to be doing some work in there and, if they do, that may save us some money."
Cliffe said the board took action after receiving a request from the state that the town shows it has the funds available to pay for its portion of the fence.
"The state, in their wisdom, is requiring that we show that we have the ability to be able to pay for that. They want a budget line or something," he said. "So by doing this, we're essentially putting it right into the minutes of a public meeting that we intend to use this amount of money to do that project, and we have the fund balance available."
Cliffe said the town has approximately $2.2 million or $2.3 million worth of fund balance, "which is a little high, but it's nice to have, and this is what you use it for. This is a good use of fund balance."
Although the property is owned by the town, the DEC is in control of the site. The town plans to install the fence until remediation of the landfill by the DEC begins. Cliffe said the fence could be installed this year.
Town of Wheatfield Attorney Matthew E. Brooks said the town has received "close to 40" notices of claim from residents living nearby the landfill, accusing the town of failing to remove toxic waste.
In other news:
The Town Board approved its new solar law, which has been a point of discussion among residents at multiple board meetings and public hearings.
Before approving the proposed law, the board made a few modifications based on resident feedback.
It voted to increase the minimum setback of ground-mounted solar systems from 10 to 20 feet, or to two times the standard primary structure setback requirement of the zoning district - whichever is larger.
The board also agreed to change the size limits of the actual ground-mounted solar structures from 750 feet to 500 feet on residential properties.
However, Cliffe said, residents who wish to install a larger structure can make a request with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which could determine whether or not to make a special allowance.
Also, ground-mounted solar energy systems on lots that are two or less acres in areas zoned rural-residential, agricultural residential, commercial or industrial will not exceed 1,000 square-feet in size, instead of the previously suggested 1,500 square feet.