LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County lawmakers could vote Wednesday on a resolution urging the governor not to push an expedited wind and solar project siting plan that would erode local government powers.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo added Article 23 to his 30-day budget message in a bid to speed up proposed wind and solar projects to help meet state alternative energy targets.
It directs the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop alternative energy sites without respect to local government controls.
County Legislator Ginger Schroder, R-Farmersville, said Monday she is circulating a proposed resolution county lawmakers could consider for immediate consideration on Wednesday.
There is some urgency for the resolution due to the fact the state budget is expected to be approved before the end of the month. That leaves little time for the resolution and similar efforts by other counties and local governments across the state.
The timing is tight, Schroder said. If county lawmakers wait for the resolution to go through the committee system before it comes to the floor, the earliest it could be voted on would be March 25, less than a week before the state budget is due to be passed.
Similar resolutions are expected to be proposed by the Farmersville and Freedom town boards, both of which have crafted more protective wind laws.
Farmersville has already voted on its 2020 wind law and was expected to amend it to reflect county planning board recommendations.
The Freedom Town Board’s 2020 wind law was approved last week by the county planning board. The town board is expected to approve the wind law next Monday.
The Cattaraugus County Legislature last year approved a resolution opposing tax breaks for large wind farms at the request of members of Freedom United and Farmersville United, local groups opposed to the proposed 340-megawatt Alle-Catt Wind Farm.
Gerry Geist, director of the state Association of Towns, agrees the timing of the governor’s move could prevent municipalities from weighing in on the plan at the statehouse.
Geist also suggested the reasoning for the proposal remains vague.
“We think you ought to make the case if you’re going to go in that direction,” said Geist, noting the proposal empowers the state to supersede the zoning laws enacted by local governments.
Also on Wednesday’s county legislature’s agenda is a presentation by the Cattaraugus County Farm Bureau.
One resolution on the agenda would direct Legislature Chairman Howard VanRensselaer, R-Randolph to sign a contract with the Appalachian Regional Commission for a $51,940 grant for the countywide trail system.
The project includes mapping trail access points, GIS for all trails, a countywide trail database, signage and a digital mapping system costing an estimated $122,000.
Another resolution seeks bids to run the dietary department at the Olean Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
The county is also readying bids for an estimated $4 million rehabilitation of the nursing homes kitchen and expanding dining areas.
The meeting starts at 4 p.m. in the legislative chamber on the third floor of the County Center here.
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