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Lewiston Town Board: Public hearings for solar project, lattice towers

Sat, Sep 14th 2019 07:00 am

2020 budget season underway

By Michael DePietro

In addition to a regular work session, the Lewiston Town Board held a pair of public hearings at the beginning of Monday’s meeting.

The first was to consider an application on behalf of Richard and Adrienne Piva/Borrego Solar for a special-use permit and site plan review of a proposed ground-mounted utility-grade solar energy system at 4352 Williams Road.

The property in question has historically been used as actively tilled farmland. The overall project site encompasses approximately 97.65 acres of land. However, the development will only cover 28.4 acres of the eastern portion of the site near Williams Road.

Marc Kenward of the engineering firm Erdman Anthony provided a number of assurances about the proposed project, beginning with legal concerns.

“Utility scale projects such as this one are allowed and regulated under the Town of Lewiston’s zoning code, Chapter 360, Article 28 – Solar Energy Systems,” Kenward said. “Utility-scale solar systems like this one are allowed in rural residential districts as well as industrial zoning districts. This proposed project is in a residential zoning district. The proposed site plan has been designed and laid out in accordance with the Town of Lewiston’s solar energy code 360-220.”

Kenward went on to address other common fears regarding solar projects.

“Once the project is in operation, it would generate no discernible noise to neighboring receptors, no adverse glare and no traffic. There is also no nighttime site lighting proposed. Maintenance activity is limited to mowing up to two times per year, with an occasional visit to electrical service technicians,” he said.

Kenward also insisted the construction of the site would be “environmentally friendly,” citing minor amounts of excavation and grading work along with some tree clearing and limited stump removal.

Per the town Planning Board, the entire project is to be screened within new and existing treelines located on the property.

While two previously board-approved solar energy projects garnered some negative community responses, no residents spoke out at Monday’s meeting.

The second public hearing was to consider a local law amendment in regard to “Chapter 30 – Towers,” to allow the construction of an emergency radio tower on the property outside the Lewiston Highway Department building. The tower would be used by local emergency agencies, including the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Lewiston Police Department and local fire departments.

In a phone call Wednesday, Councilman John Jacoby explained the lattice tower design is necessary to ensure the structure’s overall footprint is negligible. He went on to describe how important the structure will be for local emergency services.

“For our area, below the ridge, there are dead areas where our police and our fire have no radio transmission whatsoever, and it’s a very dangerous situation. So this is going to address that,” Jacoby said.

The tower is being paid for by Niagara County as part of an agreement with the Town of Lewiston.

No residents provided comment on this project either.

Town Budget

Town Finance/Budget Director Jacqueline Agnello presented the board with two budget revisions relating to the current town budget.

The first was a request for $1,764 to other general support budget from the “A” fund contingency, to cover the newly mandated New York state harassment training expenses for all town employees.

Last year, the state passed a law requiring employers with more than 15 employees to offer sexual harassment training that either meets or exceeds states requirements.

Afterward, Agnello requested a transfer of $1,500 to the traffic control contractual budget from the highway administrative contractual budget to cover the striping of Bridgeman and Dickersonville roads.

Both requests were approved by the board.

Agnello offered a brief update on the impending 2020 budget. Department heads will be submitting their departmental requests throughout the month of September, afterwich the tentative budget will be submitted to the town clerk by Sept. 30. On Oct. 2, the Town Board will be given the tentative budget from the town clerk at a special 4 p.m. meeting. Departmental budget head meetings will then take place between 4 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at Town Hall.

In the News

•Near the end of the meeting, Town of Lewiston Assessor Linda E. Johnson was re-appointed by the board. Her six-year term was set to expire later this month.

“As everyone is probably aware, it’s a pretty thankless job at times, and I think we’re lucky to have her,” Jacoby said.

•Deputy Supervisor William Conrad announced the Planning Board meeting had been cancelled for the month.

The next Town Board Meeting will be Monday, Sept. 23.

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