The Yorktown Town Board is planning public hearings for July 9 (moved from July 2) on a new tree law and a law on solar power systems. I support the new tree law. It is important to maintain woodlands for our quality of life.
I also support the installation of solar power systems. Many homeowners in Yorktown have already taken that step. However, I find some provisions of the solar law to be disturbing. The proposed law provides for the installation of large solar arrays in residential districts. This provision is to the profit of an out-of-state corporation from Colorado, but not for Yorktown homeowners.
We do not have to wait for the passage of the solar law to know what its effects will be. The Colorado corporation has already presented plans for large solar power arrays in northern Yorktown between Foothill and Lockwood and along Underhill Avenue. On both sites, the solar developer plans to clear-cut forested areas of their trees for a total of 29 acres.
The plans for the Underhill site are particularly distressing. The area overlooking Underhill is on slopes of 15 to 25 percent. The trees serve to hold the soil in place to prevent erosion and to lessen water runoff.
Underhill Avenue is a gateway to Yorktown Heights. Large-scale solar power systems placed where they are planned will be antithetical to the natural setting. The town of Yorktown Comprehensive Plan makes it clear that “Yorktown has a valuable scenic beauty and retains important elements of its rural character.” To our south, the town of North Castle does not permit large-scale solar power systems in residential areas for good reason.
We have sufficient commercial zones, rooftops, parking lots, deforested agricultural land, town-owned non-park land, and dormant recreational sites, which may be used for large-scale solar installations. Placing large-scale solar farms where there are no trees, will maximize carbon reduction. Placing large-scale solar farms in residential zones poses a threat to all of our neighborhoods.
If we think that our existing laws and regulations, including the new tree law, will protect us from the clear-cutting excesses of the corporation from Colorado, we have to think again. One of the provisions of the proposed Yorktown solar law says: “All ordinances, local laws and parts thereof inconsistent with this Local Law are hereby repealed.” In other words, there will be no recourse.
I plan on speaking at the July 9 public hearings, in favor of the tree law, but in opposition to the solar proposal as it is written to allow large-scale power systems in residential areas. It will permit environmental damage, supposedly in the name of clean energy. I urge others to attend these hearings and to state their opinions.