Planning Board OKs moratorium on solar arrays

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The city Planning Board unanimously approved a recommendation to the Common Council regarding the authorization of a six-month moratorium with respect to the establishment and construction of solar arrays within the city during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

Ordinance 9477T would grant the Common Council the authority to amend both the Zoning Code when it’s deemed the amendment would protect the health, welfare and safety of citizens and businesses, or further the public interest, and to impose a moratorium where appropriate.

The Common Council is in the process of considering amendments to Rome City Code Chapter 80, entitled “Zoning Code,” as it relates to the construction of solar arrays in the city, and the requirements. Second Ward Councilor John B. Mortise, Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers and Fifth Ward Councilor Frank R. Anderson recommend that a six-month moratorium be enacted on the establishment and construction of solar arrays within the city, or the issuance of any approvals or building permits.

A public hearing on the imposition of a moratorium on solar arrays within the city has been set for 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13 prior to the regular Common Council meeting at 7 p.m., to be held in Council Chambers of City Hall. During the regular meeting, council members will vote on the proposed Ordinance 9477T.

According to the ordinance, during the six-month moratorium, the city Planning Board cannot approve any site plan that would lead to the construction of a solar array; the Zoning Board of Appeals could not grant a variance, special use permit or other permit for any use that would result in the construction of a solar array; and the Chief Codes Enforcement Officer cannot issue any building permit or other permit resulting in the construction of a solar array.

During the Aug. 25 Common Council meeting, councilors discussed the need to develop a better policy when it comes to solar power developments.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, local businessman and Zoning Board of Appeals member James DiCastro urged councilors to draft specific requirements for solar power companies wishing to construct developments — known as “solar farms” — within the city.

In August the ZBA voted unanimously against granting a special area variance to Turin Road Solar, LLC — whose parent company is Seaboard Solar— so that it could construct a proposed 31-acre solar array in a wooded area off of Ironwood Drive and adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Other business:

• Shelley Suydam, owner of 210 N. George St., submitted an application for an Historic District Project Review, proposing to replace the existing treated lumber floor of the porch of the building with cement, with a slightly textured surface to help with traction. She also proposed moving the handicap ramp to the right side of the porch and have that also made of cement.

The new ramp would be the same depth of the existing porch and extend 8-feet along the side of the building, which would adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act codes. 

The proposal was unanimously approved.

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