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Town of Niagara wants more control over wind, solar projects

TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board agreed Tuesday to join a growing number of municipalities across the state to fight for local control of solar and wind energy projects.

By a unanimous vote, the board voted to call for the State Association of Towns to “aggressively support the constitutional rights” of local governments to determine how land will be utilized and amend the state public service law to afford communities more meaningful participation in the location of industrial wind and solar energy facilities.

Supervisor Lee Wallace said changes to the service law “basically eliminated local home rule” over town zoning and planning regulations to allow companies to negotiate with landowners and get certification from the state to put up projects said as wind mill farms. He noted the current fight in the Town of Somerset over such a project.

In other business, the board:

  • Set new sewer and water usage rates for property owners. The increase is about 5 to 10 cents per 1,000 gallons higher than the current charge. The rate for minimum users of 8,000 gallons or less will stay the same at a flat $10 for water and $20 for sewer.
  • Initiated a sliding-scale system for property tax exemptions for senior citizens with the maximum amount a household can earn set at $21,000 - $28,499 a year. The exemption percentage would depend on the income amount. The previous maximum was $18,000 a year.
  • Approved changes to an agreement with T-Mobile Northeast to use the town water tower for cell phone transmission. The firm will pay the town an extra $500 a month to install three additional antennas and three remote radio heads. Under the new agreement, the town now collects about $60,000 a year from T-Mobile for use of the tower.
  • Agreed to contract with local promoter Robert Koshinski next year at $1,700 a month for coordination and promotion of town events. This year, the town hired Koshinski to help with advertising and running events such as the summer concert series at Veterans Memorial Community Park. Although the work was successful, Wallace said the town paid him per assignment and it ended up costing more than a monthly fee.
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