One topic of discussion at the Jan. 5 Newfield Town Planning Board meeting was a solar development proposal submitted by Robert M. Sutherland, P.C. for Solar Power Network, LLC. The plan involves developing five community solar farms near Superior Heights and Elmira Road. Photo provided
In a pivotal start to the new year, the Newfield Planning Board convened Jan. 3 at the town hall. The meeting, marking the first of the year, centered on key projects set to impact the community in the upcoming months.
The planning board is currently examining Newfield’s comprehensive plan, which the Newfield Town Board adopted Sept. 12. Building on a decision related to the business aspect of this plan from their Dec. 6 meeting, board members have been gathering details and contact information from prominent local business people. The objective is to engage with these business leaders to gain insights that can be integrated into the comprehensive plan.
Planning board member Mike McLaughlin highlighted the critical role of community input in the decision-making process. As a way to include those unable to attend meetings, he proposed the development of a survey or questionnaire. This tool would ensure that community members’ perspectives are collected and factored into the board’s decisions.
“It’s frustrating about the lack of current events going on in our town,” said McLaughlin. “The one thing I dread the most is making decisions without input from the community, and I have vowed, and I continue to vow, that I will try to do everything I can think of to encourage community involvement.”
Aligned with this effort, the board approved an initiative to create a questionnaire, led by board member Thomas Heffron. This questionnaire will collect feedback from local business people and is expected to be finalized by the upcoming planning board meeting. Additionally, the board plans to maintain efforts in arranging in-person meetings with members of Newfield’s business community.
For further details about the comprehensive plan, visit the town of Newfield’s website.
A significant topic of discussion was a solar development proposal submitted to the planning board for review on Oct. 3 by Robert M. Sutherland, P.C. for Solar Power Network, LLC. The plan involves developing five community solar farms on a parcel near Superior Heights and Elmira Road.
Detailed information on this proposal, discussed by the planning board on Nov. 1, is available on the town of Newfield’s website.
Since its introduction at the planning board meeting in November, the solar development project has consistently been a topic of discussion at subsequent meetings. This issue has not only been a focal point in the planning board’s agenda but has also been regularly addressed in town board meetings.
Concerns from the community have been a major point of discussion, as residents have raised different issues during the privilege of the floor. Newfield resident Hazel Olcott raised questions about the potential impact of the new solar development on the future value of her property. Similarly, Dan Weed, another Newfield resident, emphasized the need to carefully weigh the rights of property owners against the broader implications for the community.
“I do believe it’s important for property owners to be able to do things on their own land,” said Weed. “I want to make sure that the town is entertaining the thought of how it will affect other businesses and individuals around the area.”
As the planning board progresses, it plans to consider these perspectives by compiling a list of questions and concerns addressed to the plan’s proponents. According to Debra Eichten, acting chair of the planning board, in accordance with Newfield’s regulations, the solar development plan must undergo a public hearing and notify adjacent property owners before it can advance.
According to Newfield Town Supervisor Michael Allinger, the solar farm developers have been directed to engage with all homeowners who might be affected by the project. The developers are required to discuss and negotiate with these residents to understand and address their concerns. This step of community involvement is essential and must be completed before any conclusive decisions are made about the project.
In its upcoming meetings, the planning board will continue to focus on both the comprehensive plan and the solar development project. Meeting agendas are made available on the town of Newfield website.
The board invites community members to its next planning meeting on Feb. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Newfield Town Hall, underlining the importance of public input in these developmental processes.
Town board to meet
The Newfield Town Board will convene for a meeting Jan. 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Newfield Town Hall. Community members are strongly encouraged to participate. Details and the agenda for the meeting can be found on the town of Newfield’s website.
Library to close for MLK Jr. Day
Newfield Public Library will be closed Jan. 15 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Newfield Kitchen Cupboard hours
The Newfield Kitchen Cupboard, situated at Newfield United Methodist Church, is open for operation on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
(Full credit goes to Hannah Fichter at Tompkins Weekly, Jan 10th 2024)