Site plan for proposed solar array reviewed

The St. Lawrence County Planning Board reviewed the site plan for a proposed 5 megawatt solar array near Wadhams Hall Seminary. Screenshot

OSWEGATCHIE — The St. Lawrence County Planning Board has recommended approval for a special use permit and site plan for a 5 megawatt solar array in Oswegatchie, but with several stipulations.

Planner II Dakota Casserly said the Wadhams Solar, LLC facility will be located at 6866 state Highway 37, near the Wadhams Hall Seminary. He said the project was referred to the St. Lawrence County Planning Board because of its proximity to state Highway 37. The land will be leased from Wadhams Hall Seminary.

Mr. Casserly said several other arrays are located in the surrounding area.

“So, lots of activity going on in the town of Oswegatchie for solar, for sure,” he said.

A developer who attended the Zoom meeting said Oswegatchie was favorable for solar development because of the town’s solar law.

“It leaves a lot of guesswork out of development. It makes it a lot easier to move forward with a project and feel confident about what you’re going to be able to get out of it,” he said.

The solar array will be located on about 30 acres of a roughly 196-acre parcel.

“Roughly 11 1/2 acres will be disturbed. Access is going to be via the Wadhams Hall paved access road. A gravel roadway will be constructed as well,” Mr. Casserly said.

The facility will have a maximum height of 20 feet, a fence that stands about 7 feet high and three gates with 20 feet of width for vehicle access.

He said roughly 16 acres of trees will be removed to avoid federal designated wetlands on the parcel. None of those are located within the array boundary. The project meets the height, setback and fencing requirements. Small signs will fit within regulations, he said.

“They ensure that it’s wildlife-friendly, which is nice to see,” Mr. Casserly said.

The company will need to submit a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, and he said they plan to file that as part of their final petition. They also need to submit a safety plan to local fire departments.

“That’s something we’re going to recommend that they do,” he said.

The company also needs to indicate their plans to mow the property.

“We’re going to suggest they contract with a local livestock grazing operation if at all possible,” he said.

A decommissioning plan was submitted, but Mr. Casserly said they are recommending having a third party review the document and then share it with town officials.

No construction timeline was provided, and Mr. Casserly said that would be another recommendation, as well as arranging a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with the town.

The company will also be asked to submit safety, lighting and sign plans if applicable, and contact the state Department of Transportation for approval of the planned state Highway 37 access improvements.

Although he said it might be difficult, Mr. Casserly said the Planning Office staff also recommended changing the size of the array to avoid prime farmland.

They’re also asked to submit evidence that malware prevention, detection and mitigation software or programming has been installed where electronic information exchanges take place between the solar array and the utility’s distribution control system. That would minimize any cybersecurity threats to the electrical grid.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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