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Town Board approves site plan and special use permit for proposed solar project

Sat, Jun 11th 2022 07:00 am

By Alice Gerard

The Grand Island Town Board approved both a site plan and a special use permit at its June 6 meeting for Grand Island Sunrise LLC to construct a solar energy generation project at its property at 871 Whitehaven Road. In addition, the Town Board issued a negative SEQR determination for the project.

According to Bridget O’Toole, attorney with The Zoghlin Group PLLC, who represented Grand Island Sunrise LLC at the Town Board meeting, “There were no potentially significant environmental impacts.”

This project will call for a 6-megawatt solar array to be added to a 167.7-acre property, land that is zoned B-1. B-1 zoning permits such uses as highways, businesses and solar farms.

The Western New York Public Broadcasting Association owns television antennas that occupy a portion of the land. O’Toole said the solar project will occupy the front 21 acres of the property, while leaving the antennas and the rest of the undeveloped property undisturbed.

Any environmental impacts would be temporary and occur during the construction phase, O’Toole said. According to Councilman Tom Digati, Grand Island Sunrise LLC agreed to maintain landscaping at the site. The Conservation Advisory Board, he said, is “thrilled to see all of the trees that will be planted and that there be a diversity of species of trees.” He said the board suggested using the recently completed town tree inventory as a guideline for choosing tree species that would thrive on Grand Island.

Councilman Mike Madigan pointed out that a potential “fly in the ointment” is a proposed subdivision in a nearby site. Councilman Christian Bahleda said the solar project would “not be detrimental to current structures or a proposed subdivision. Digati noted the impact to the environment from the solar project is “less than other types of business,” and the screening and landscaping plan that has been proposed by Grand Island Sunrise LLC is consistent with the solar law that was recently enacted by the Town Board.

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