Now, it’s not just roads the NextEra solar project in the Town of Sharon is destroying.
It’s wells too.
So much for the state’s Right to Farm Law, said Stuart Salisbury, whose family saw well water to their Sakon Road dairy barn nearly disappear almost overnight at the end of January.
There’s barely enough to water the cows in the morning, Mr. Salisbury said; by evening, there’s none at all, forcing them to switch over to a pond for both the milking barn and the milk house.
Though that’s the most dramatic impact from the “pounding” that’s going on just across the road as crews install the solar panels—“No water, no milk,” Mr. Salisbury said—it’s not the only one.
Excess water runoff is flooding their farm fields, and because Sakon Road is marked “closed” at their driveway, they’re unable to get to land they’re paying to rent to spread manure, Mr. Salisbury said.
Additionally, he said, they’ve seen workers dumping five gallon containers of used diesel on the ground—something they worry will contaminate the water they do have.
Other farmers on Parsons Road have filed similar complaints with the New York State Public Service Commission in connection with the project: loss of water and unable to access the road to cut crops or spread manure.
Mr. Salisbury said he also reached out to DEC with his concerns.
They sent him to the PSC, he said, where he was told that unless the work was being done within 100 feet of the well—it’s about 300 feet away, he said—there’s nothing they can do.
“Twenty-five years with no problem with our well and now there’s a problem and they tell me it’s not related?” he said.
Mr. Salisbury also reached out to Assemblyman Chris Tague, who shares his concern.
“Our main concern is to take care of the Salisburys so they can continue farming,” he said.
“This is exactly what I warned about when Governor Cuomo took away home rule. We’re taking vast amounts of valuable farmland out of production and tying the hands of our farmers and our local communities.”
Monday, Assemblyman Tague’s office made phone calls to DEC and Ag & Markets; both promised phone calls to the Salisburys.
“They know we’re keeping an eye on this,” said his Chief of Staff, Lois Goblet.
Sakon Road is the other end of Beech Road, where Highway Superintendent Bill Barbic Jr. continues to wage war against runoff and other issues caused by excavation—and now re-excavation: partially-collapsed cross-culverts, pooling water because of blocked drainage, missing, required, erosion and sediment controls, and high-voltage lines buried in the middle of Beech in conduits without the appropriate backfill.
“It’s all mis-management,” Mr. Barbic said. “They’re not following the state’s own protocol—things I have to do. That line down the middle of the road? Legally, I can’t even maintain it anymore now.”
Mr. Barbic’s also fielded complaints from Beech Road neighbors over traffic and noise and Sunday construction—and a phone line ripped off a home.
He estimates it would take “millions” to repair the damage to the road and properties and continues to document it with what’s become hundreds of photos.
“It just doesn’t stop,” said Sharon Supervisor Sandy Manko. “The state doesn’t appear to be doing anything and they don’t react or pay attention to anything.
“It’s like anything goes. It’s like the days of shutting down a project…is gone. NextEra can do anything they want and they know it.”