Local News

New County Solar Pilot Agreement Law Not Voted On; Going Back To Ag/Planning Committee After Several Speak Out


One of the top items at last night’s meeting on the agenda was Item No. 4 which would establish a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement for Commercial Solar Energy Systems in Cortland County. The Cortland IDA would assist in the pilot agreement.

The agenda item was pulled during the meetings committee updates. But before that several spoke on that agenda item with the privilege of the floor at the meeting.

Taking the podium were several residents who spoke in opposition or in favor of this new law. One of those residents opposed is local Michael Smith, who lives on Riley Road in Cortlandville. He spoke out against this law.

He lives across from a commercial solar facility. He asked the legislature to vote no, sharing his experiences of commercial solar. He went on to say the solar field company hasn’t followed the rules with landscaping. He also mentioned animal displacement and issues with water runoff.

Michael Barleski, a local resident who has signed with EDF spoke on why we need solar energy.

“What is happening here tonight, is not just occurring in Cortland County, or in Central New York, or in New York State, or even in all 50 states. It is happening all over the world.” Said Michael Barleski to the Legislature.

He also gave 19 reasons why solar energy is needed.

Garry VanGorder, CEO of the Cortland County IDA also spoke at last night’s meeting on this proposed law. He praised the legislature for being willing to revisit previous actions, as he stated it.

VanGorder also gave a statement on some of the opposition but that opposition wasn’t on solar but rather the IDA itself.

“Real disappointment with the actions of a particular few who have turned the issue into a referendum on the IDA, which for the purposes of this amendment before you tonight has simply agreed to step in and assist with PILOT negotiations should a developer apply for benefits directly to Cortland County.” VanGorder said.

Back in 2018, the Cortland County Legislature adopted local law 1 to establish a PILOT agreement with Commercial Solar Energy Systems in Cortland County.

The county then adopted local law 5 in 2020, which established the payment PILOT agreement with Commercial Solar Energy Systems in Cortland County.

Revisions and recommendations were given by the County Legislature’s Agriculture, Planning and Environmental Committee with a public hearing also held on October 27th of this year.

The legislature was to vote to repeal both Local Law 1 and Local Law 5 at last night’s meeting regarding solar pilot agreements and then establish Local Law I of 2022, but Beau Harbin, chair of the Agriculture/Planning/Environment Committee and author of this item pulled agenda Item No. 4 stating it will go back to that committed for further review in January after hearing all the public comments on the proposed local law.

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