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Wheatfield explores solar project for disused dump site

Fri, Apr 9th 2021 12:05 pm

By Michael DePietro

Tribune Editor

While the Town of Niagara deals with a project on its own Witmer Road that has environmental groups outraged, the Wheatfield Town Board passed a resolution Monday that should make environmentalists happy.

The board passed a resolution authorizing Supervisor Don MacSwan to execute a letter of intent to option real property for lease for the town-owned property commonly known as the Witmer Road dump for the development of a community solar farm with Atlas Renewables (subject to town attorney approval.)

“We’re dealing with a solar provider, Atlas, and they are looking at leasing the dump and placing their solar panels on top of the dump,” MacSwan said. “They wouldn't be penetrating the cap of the landfill at all. I guess they’ve done this elsewhere in the country. So we're dealing with them; the potential lease of the property. The site was the Niagara County Dump for years, and Wheatfield was given that property. And of course it has a cap on it and has never been touched.”

MacSwan said the City of North Tonawanda is also negotiating with Atlas about the Witmer Road property, since a portion of the property is in NT. MacSwan said he believes the city will seek a PILOT.

“It’s a perfect location; it's not visible from anywhere. It was a dump for so many years. It was capped, but nothing would threaten the cap as such. So the letter of intent that I’m signing would let (Atlas) go further and do environmental reviews – DEC, EPA, etc. – to go forth and to get the approval,” MacSwan said.

On a somewhat related note, the board also passed a motion authorizing the town’s engineering firm, Wendel, to provide planning assistance with the town’s solar law update for an expense estimated fee range of $5,500 to $7,500.

“What we’re doing – we’ve had a solar law in place for quite some time – in fact, some of the other local municipalities used our law for a model. But we're making some minor revisions to keep up with the times. Basically screening changes, things like that. Nothing major. The law as it is right now is a good law, we’re just making minor tweaks,” MacSwan said.

Elsewhere, the board:

•Approved and authorized the town supervisor, highway superintendent and councilmen to sign the 2021 Highway Law §284 Agreement for the expenditure of highway monies within the Town of Wheatfield. The agreement is a procedure done every year where the highway superintendent has to show what roads are planned for paving, as well as the monies that are being expended for paving. Said agreement is subject to alteration and can be increased or decreased.

•Approved a resolution to adopt an order reciting that the Town of Wheatfield was presented with a petition to create 6A lighting district for the Brookfield subdivision containing the boundaries of the proposed district, the lighting improvements proposed and the estimated cost of the proposed district to the typical property contained therein.

The resolution also schedules a public hearing on the proposed lighting district for 7 p.m. May 3 at the Wheatfield Town Hall.

•Similar to what other municipalities along coastal zones like Niagara River, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have done recently, the Town Board, in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) approved a flood damage prevention law, which features amendments to the town’s code.

Town Engineer Tim Zuber said the changes were necessitated due to mapping updates from FEMA and that the last time this procedure was done in the town was between 2008 and 2010. A public hearing was held regarding the code amendments on March 15.

Per the agenda, “The Code amendments were referred to Niagara County in accordance with New York State GML 239. Wheatfield Town Board amends Chapter 101 of the Wheatfield Town Code.”

For more information, call the Town Hall at 716-694-6440.

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