RIVERHEAD - Cash-strapped farmers asked the Riverhead Town Board to oppose a resolution that would prevent them from installing solar panels to make money.
The farmers want to charge companies to let them put solar panels on farmland – a move the farmers say would help them stay in business.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter says that he does not want to see thousands of acres of solar panels on land once used for agriculture.
“The rents that solar [companies] are willing to pay far outpace what a young farmer can pay to lease farmland,” said Walter. “If you allow this, it will end agriculture. I’m convinced of that.”
The legislation allows solar panels to be installed on farmland only if they are used to operate the farm.
At the end of the public hearing, town officials and Supervisor Walter agreed to form a special board made up of farmers and town officials. They will meet to revisit and possibly revise the resolution. They hope to meet within a few weeks.