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Town of Lewiston extends solar law moratorium

Fri, Oct 30th 2020 07:00 am

Town to hold Dec. 14 public hearing on amended solar law

Agnello notes ‘pleasant surprise’ with September sales tax

By Terry Duffy

Editor-in-Chief

The Town of Lewiston approved measures at its Monday meeting to extend the moratorium on utility scale solar installations in the town for an additional two months.

The measure by Councilman Bill Geiben followed an announced public hearing that saw no comments on the amended solar law. In explaining the town’s reasoning on extending the measure, attorney for the town Tom Seaman said that delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to follow through on requirements related to the state environmental quality review process contributed to the moratorium extension.

“We now have a law amending the industrial solar section of our code, but it’s going to take a couple of months, six weeks to do the coordinated review for SEQR,” he said. “We thought it was prudent to extend the moratorium by just a couple more months to allow us to comply with SEQR.

“The plan is, we’ll take action on this law tonight and then set a public hearing for December. This will allow us enough time for our engineer to do the coordinated review for SEQR.”

Soon after, the Town Board went on to procedurally approve the solar moratorium for an additional two months by a 5-0 vote. It also approved the amended local law covering utility solar installations as well as setting public hearing on the measure for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14. The board, likewise, approved that measure, plus one for it to act as lead agent for the SEQR review and for Town Engineer Robert Lannon to circulate the coordinated review document to all interested agencies.

Details on the solar law amendment are expected to be available for public review on the town’s website, www.townoflewiston.us.

In other news from the brief session:

•Town Finance/Budget officer Jacqueline Agnello issued the 2021 preliminary budget for board review. By the numbers, the $18,353,414 preliminary budget total reflects a slight adjustment drop in overall town spending (appropriations and special districts) from the Sept. 28 tentative plan of $18,367,654. However, the final amount to be raised by taxes – $4,438,070 – remains the same.

In preparing the resolution to accept the preliminary plan, attorney Seaman instructed board members, “The resolution should be that the town adopts the tentative budget amendments as the preliminary budget.”

Soon after, that measure and one to hold a schedule a public hearing (6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5) to adopt the 2021 plan were both approved.

“That is not a meeting night, but a special meeting on this matter,” Supervisor Steve Broderick said of the Nov. 5 session. The budget faces adoption for submission to the state by Nov. 20.

Agnello also made note of some good financial news for the town.

“On Friday, we received our September sales tax; it was a half-million dollars,” she said.

Agnello commented that, in keeping records dating back to 2007, “It was the largest money we’ve received to date. I was very surprised; it was not anticipated.

“I’m not aware where we’re headed, but it was a pleasant surprise.”

 “It was a big number,” Broderick said. “In a lot of times, that particular sales tax in September is the back to school sales tax, but thank God they started charging internet sales tax; I think that’s where a lot of this is from. Let’s hope that keeps up. That was some positive news.”

•Wrapping up, Geiben said he would be following up this week with consultant Jason Kulaszewski on the town’s clean energy/climate smart planning objectives, its bronze “clean energy” status with the New York state, and future projects the town is considering.

More on this, as news develops.

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