Solar farm once again proposed for Curry Road

— From Google Earth

Borrego Solar Systems is proposing a five-megawatt ground-mounted solar facility at 2825 Curry Road in Guilderland.

GUILDERLAND — A site previously slated for a 1.2-megawatt solar project with which local preservationists took issue is now being pitched as the home for a solar array four times the size.

The Guilderland Planning Board recently heard Borrego Solar Systems propose a five-megawatt ground-mounted solar facility at 2825 Curry Road, a well-screened-from-the-road 48-acre parcel located in a largely commercial area. 

The proposal was before the board for a site-plan review; the zoning board is the lead agency for the project. 

The project had been proposed in 2018 as a 1.2-megawatt facility by the now-bankrupt Monolith Solar, but the company “never pursued their special-use permit approval,” said Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik during the June 9 planning board meeting. 

“A lot line amendment is also proposed,” according to Kovalchik’s memo to the board, which would incorporate a “9.4-acre parcel abutting to the west,” at 2819 Curry Road, creating a new 57.3-acre lot of which 21.63 acres would be covered with solar panels.

Both sites have the same owner, Vetto Vaitulis

Kovalchik’s memo notes the 9.4 acre parcel is partly in a residential district; however “no portion of the solar facility will be located within the [residential] portion of the parcel.”

The 2018 project application was referred to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission because the proposal was located “in a full protection area,” Kovalchik said. 

The Pine Bush Preserve Commission in 2018 recommended the project receive a Type I Action classification under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning it should receive an in-depth environmental review, “since it is adjacent to protected preserve, and between several protected properties within a National Natural Landmark occupied with endangered species and other [Species of Greatest Conservation Need] wildlife,” Kovalchik’s memo states.

The two species are frosted elfin and Karner blue butterflies. 

Kovalchik said he brought the comments to the attention of the board because they were made about a 1.2-megawatt project and now there is a five-megawatt proposal being considered.

“So there’ll be greater impacts,” Kovalchik said, “so I think this application should be referred back to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission to get their updated reviews on this larger project.”

The Albany County Planning Board recommended the five-megawatt proposal be disapproved, meaning a supermajority — four out of five board members — of the zoning board would have to approve the project, overriding the county planning board’s disapproval in the process.  

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