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Three solar farms proposed for the Town of Batavia

BATAVIA – SunEdison, a global provider of renewable energy, is looking to place three 10- to 15-acre solar farms in the Town of Batavia.

Gregory P. Scholand, environmental and land-use attorney for Harter Secrest & Emery of Buffalo, outlined SunEdison’s proposal at the Batavia Town Planning Board’s meeting Tuesday night.

“We’re focusing on sites that have the infrastructure to connect to the power grid and finding landowners who are interested in having a portion of their property repurposed in this way,” Scholand said. “These solar farms will generate about two megawatts each, enough electricity to power about 300 homes.

SunEdison has tentative agreements with landowners Thomas Lichtenthal, 8169 Bank St. Road; Batavia Farms Inc., 8053 Oak Orchard Road; and Call Farms Inc., 7755 Oak Orchard Road, Scholand said. Lichtenthal is the assistant engineer for the Town of Batavia.

Scholand said property owners are paid for using their land as sites for solar farms, which produce electricity from a clean, renewable source. SunEdison benefits by selling the solar power to the utility company.

“Over time, the municipality would see a benefit due to an increase in property values from this new type of use,” he said.

SunEdison’s original plan was to build one solar farm (on Bank Street Road), Scholand said. Since it is now adding two more sites, there is a question concerning the number of environmental reviews that would be necessary to move the project forward.

Planning Board members agreed that three separate state environmental reviews should be done because there are three properties involved. They also asked Scholand to consider a solar farm demonstration project on the Batavia Landfill site at Galloway and Kelsey roads.

Scholand said the state environmental issue is a “gray area” because it is one project with three sites but added that SunEdison “wants to accommodate the town’s interests wherever practical.” He also said he would look into the Batavia Landfill request.

In another development, the board voted in favor of the site plan for a new East Pembroke Fire District fire hall on Barrett Drive, east of East Pembroke, contingent upon the fire company meeting all engineering requirements of the town.

The approval is based only on plans for the fire department building and is not affected by development of two other parcels on the property – one owned by Kistner Concrete and the other, the Town of Batavia.

Last week, the Genesee County Planning Board voted in favor of the fire district’s plan to construct a 9,000-square-foot hall to replace its current headquarters on West Main Road in East Pembroke. Town engineers have determined the old fire hall is structurally deficient.

Paul Congdon, a civil engineer for Hunt engineers/architects/surveyors in Rochester, said the new fire hall will have five bays for emergency vehicles, with the potential for a sixth bay, and meeting space for as many as 40 people.

Municipal water will be supplied through an extension to Barrett Drive, Congdon said. Planners made it clear that the town would not be responsible for the cost of the extension.

Fire district officials said they are in the process of obtaining the deed to the land, which is being donated by Kistner Concrete, and will be scheduling an informational meeting prior to a public vote on the referendum.