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Wheatfield considers looser restrictions on solar power panels

WHEATFIELD - The Town Board held an hourlong work session Monday on a proposed law regulating ground-based solar power panels, with the town's consultant suggesting changes that would make the law more solar-friendly.

However, the board didn't vote on the law, instead opting to extend the town's current moratorium on ground-based solar for another three months while studying the issue.

"We've loosened some of the requirements," said planning consultant Andrew C. Reilly, who suggested allowing residential property owners to have solar panels in their backyards without having to go before the town Planning Board. Reilly said a solar project on a home lot should be allowed simply by obtaining a building permit unless the owner plans more than 750 square feet of panels, and the setback should be no more than the 5 to 10 feet required for a garage.

Reilly also suggested taking out any limit on the size of utility-grade solar projects and allowing them in rural residential zones as well as agricultural and industrial zones. That would open up as much as 70 percent of the town to large-scale solar projects.

"The changes are so drastic, we probably should have another public hearing," Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said. That hearing was set for Jan. 23. The alterations are to be posted on the town's website.


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