Now 2 farm wells, no water; supervisors hear call for solar moratorium


By Patsy Nicosia

With now, two farm wells in the Town of Sharon struggling, maybe it’s time for a solar moratorium or a countywide law banning projects.
At the very least, it’s long past time for state elected officials to step up and speak out, supervisors said Friday.
For the past month, Skip and Stuart Salisbury have been watching water levels in the well to their dairy barn on Saxon Road dwindle to nearly a trickle.
Now, Harry Edsall is seeing the same thing at his farm on Parson Road.
Both farms border land where crews for NextEra Energy have been pounding in supports for panels for the 50-MW solar project since the fall.
Also in line for a 94-c solar project are the Towns of Carlisle and Seward, where the 20-MW Rock District Solar is headed toward state review.
When is enough enough? agricultural advocate Duane Spaulding asked the Board of Supervisors Friday.
What’s happening in Sharon is bad enough, he said, but the land off Brown Road in Carlisle is some of the best in Schoharie County, and because of the sieve-like karst geology there, in some of the biggest danger of seeing groundwater contaminated by run-off from the panels.
Mr. Spaulding asked supervisors to consider a solar moratorium.

Don’t stop there, said Art Boreali, a member of the Town of Cobleskill Planning Board:
A countywide solar law, would help the smaller municipalities and also educate the public, he said.
Blenheim Supervisor Don Airey, who’s been leading the solar fight, said he could look into both.
But both he and County Attorney Mike West said it’s not likely to work--or help.
“But the disgrace that’s going on in Sharon…this is what our state thinks of our upstate rural communities,” Mr. Airey said. “And Sandy [Manko, Sharon supervisor] has had to live that nightmare.”
Soon, Carlisle and Seward could be living it too.
“What’s happening at these two dairy farms is deplorable,” an angry Carlisle Supervisor John Leavitt said, “Look at all the destruction and mess.”
What’s also deplorable, Mr. Levitt said, is that no local state legislators have stepped up to draw attention to the threat to farmland.
“They’re destroying land, they’re destroying wells. And now we’re looking at a 300-MW project in the Town of Root,” just over the county line in Montgomery County, he said.
“This needs to stop. And our politicians who are supposed to be representing us haven’t stepped up at all.”
Seward Supervisor Earlin Rosa also criticized the New York State Association of Counties and Farm Bureau for not taking a lead role in fighting the projects.

“We need to put pressure on those organizations,” he said.
Supervisors went into executive session to discuss “tax assessments” with attorney Dylan Harris of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, who been working with them on solar issues, including on a legal challenge to the state’s new formula for assessing solar projects.
On Mr. Harris’s advice, Mr. Airey said afterwards, they took no action “but there was an understanding.”
A vote on a resolution would have to have been taken publicly, not so with an understanding.