(See also application for a battery storage facility at Staples Shopping Center and proposed legislation regulating this type of facility.)
Town Board, 11-12-2019
The applicant advised the board that he had no issue with the suggestion that its plan undergo peer review and that it would provide the required first responder training and adhere to the Fire Code. He objected, however, to the possibility that his application would be caught in a proposed moratorium after being before the Zoning Board for five months.
In response, Supervisor Gilbert distinguished the Staples project which is being considered an accessory use to the site’s main use, i.e., a shopping center, from the Gomer Court project which is a primary use. Councilman Lachterman assured the applicant that the board was moving as quickly as possible on the proposed new law and that it was not likely that the project would be held up for a year.
Town Board, 10-22-2019
(For background, see also proposed facility on Gomer Court.) The board is considering two possible local laws: one would be a one year moratorium on approving any of these facilities, including the two currently being reviewed by the Planning Board and the Zoning Board, while the Town Board considered a second local law that would regulate these types of facilities.
While generally supportive of these facilities, the sense of the board was that they needed to learn more about them, especially issues involving their safety, the extent to which local first responders had to be trained to deal with any incidents and why special training was necessary, and where the facilities should be permitted.
In addition to the two applications currently under review, Stewart Glass, the supervisor’s assistant noted that there has been interest in constructing similar facilities on two town owned parcels, neither of which was identified.
In explaining the rationale for the moratorium law, Town Attorney Abbate said it would give the board time it sit back and take a look at the issue, noting that currently the town did not have any procedures in place to regulate battery storage facilities. He added that the proposed moratorium law included an exemption for hardship cases that would be determined by the Town Board. A hardship would exist, he said, if the applicant could show that it had incurred substantial expenses to date or if construction had already started. Based on his research, Mr. Abbate said that Putnam Valley had enacted a one year moratorium
Noting that his application has been before the Zoning Board since July, the applicant for the Gomer Street facility appeared to oppose the moratorium that would put a hold on his application.
The proposed law regulating battery storage facilities is based on a NYSERDA model law that was published in July and would regulate three tiers of facilities, from home based storage facilities that would be an accessory to a solar system to larger facilities that did not have a solar component. The details of the proposed law were not discussed.
The board voted to refer out both laws and discussed the need to have a more formal presentation about battery storage facilities at a future date.
Planning Board, 9-23-2019
The applicant advised the board that it met all the requirements in the proposed NYSERDA model law and that it had made changes to the site plan in accord with the Planning Board’s earlier concerns. The ZBA is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the application for a special permit on Thursday.
Although the site is currently in a flood plain, the applicant explained that the FEMA map is incorrect (the board agreed that there are problems with the current FEMA maps) and is working to have the map amended to eliminate the site. If the ZBA approves granting the special permit, he said he would accept the condition that the permit not go into effect until after the map was amended.
Mr. Bock raised questions about the potential negative impact on the stream from spills or ruptures and asked if the application has been referred to the Conservation Board; the applicant did not know. The applicant’s engineer explained all the safety features.
Although the applicant reminded the board that the building inspector had determined that the application fell within the bounds of the Zoning Code’s special permit requirements for a “public utility substation,” the board was mindful of the new NYSERDA model law and decided that in its memo to the Zoning Board it would include the following points:
--The need for a referral to the Conservation Board
--The need for mitigation for disturbance to a wetland buffer
--The unresolved flood plain issue
--The fact that the ZBA might want to slow down its process while the Town Board decided how to address the possible need for a local law regulating battery storage facilities.
Planning Board 9-9-2019
The applicant showed a revised plan that addressed changes discussed at the previous meeting. Mr. LaScala, citing a magazine article about an explosion at such a facility, brought up the issue of the plan’s fire suppression system which led Stewart Glass, the supervisor’s assistant, to advise the board that as of July, 2019, NYSERDA had published a model local law governing battery storage facilities. He noted that, to date, there have been three applications for such facilities, with the Gomer Court facility being the largest. The other two proposals are for the Staples Shopping Center and an unnamed town owned parcel.
Mr. Fon said that that state building code governed the issue and that towns could not make changes to the code.
Mr. Bock noted that the storage units were in the wetland buffer which raised questions about the proximity of the stream that feeds into Lake Osceola. Mr. Tegeder noted that the proposed plan would actually clean up the debris currently in the buffer and advised the applicant to discuss the wetland and other issues with staff prior to returning the board in two weeks.
Planning Board, 8-12-2019
On a referral from the Zoning Board, the board reviewed an application for a special permit for a “public utility substation” to install a battery storage facility on a parcel in an office zone. The parcel is located between East Main Street and Route 6 near te intersection with 6N.
The facility, which would store electricity from the grid and return it to the grid when necessary, is part of a state program to create storage for electricity rather than construct new generating facilities. The project would receive financing from NYSERDA. The facility would include two storage like containers about 13’ high.
In response to questions from Mr. Tegeder, the applicant advised the board that the building inspector had determined that the use qualified as a public utility substation even though the applicant acknowledged that the company is not regulated by the PSC.
The board raised questions about the need for a decommissioning plan as the batteries have an estimated 15 year life span. The board asked to see a rendering of what the storage containers would look like. There was also some discussion of whether a fence along Route 6 would be needed to shield the view.