Plan to build solar farm on the East End draws concern over impact
The Riverhead Planning Board approved a plan Thursday to build a solar farm in Calverton despite concerns from area residents over how the project would impact them.
Ed Graham, of Manorville, is upset over the planned solar panel field set to be built on a former golf course. The total project involves 200 acres on Edwards Avenue, just north of the Long Island Expressway.
"This is not the place to put solar farms," says Graham. "Solar farms should go on brownfields, landfills, or dead lands that nobody was ever going to use."
Opponents say the development would drive out wildlife that use the property and pose a threat to groundwater because of chemicals that are inside solar panels that could potentially leak. Opponents also say they're most upset over how Riverhead town officials glossed over the potential negative impacts.
"I watched this whole process go through and I was shaking my head the whole time, like does not anyone understand what they're doing to our water supply, what they're doing to our environment?" says Graham.
Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar says the project was fully vetted and adds that the property's zoning allows for solar panels.
Supporters says there will be benefits.
"We're going from $6,500 a year in taxes the way it is right now to bringing in $850,000," says town Councilman Ken Rothwell. "That's a big revenue generator for the town."
The proposed site sits across from one of several solar panel fields in the Calverton area.
Sharon Dunigan, of Calverton, says, "They have pushed forward without really the input from the community in a viable way that really gives people ownership of what's going on in their community."