To the editor,
We are writing this letter to acknowledge to all of Oswego County and its environs what it is like to have a corporation come into our community in the town of Minetto with a seriously flawed project that is detrimental to both our community and its residents. We have a fight on our hands and we want to tell our story.
About a year and a half ago, Cipriani Energy Corporation, which is based in Europe and had been in the United States for just a year and a half, approached the town of Minetto to build a large industrial solar farm right in the middle of our residential neighborhood. This property is surrounded by residential homes both from Ridgeway Sites Avenue, along Route 48 and Meridian Avenue. At the time, the town of Minetto did its job and turned away Cipriani based on our Zoning Ordinance 606 that states “no ground built solar especially in residential areas.”
Little did we know this company came back with a vengeance and sued the town of Minetto based on the wording of this ordinance. The town hired a zoning firm to represent us and unfortunately the judge in the Oswego County Supreme Court did not like the wording of the law and after Cipriani’s attorneys pushed this, the judge found in favor of the corporation. “The town does not have the right under the code to issue a blanket denial of a special use permit based on Section 606.”
Nowhere in the representation for Minetto was any substance brought forward. About 50 residents attended the Zoning Board meeting at the town hall with three representatives from Cipriani. Cipriani presented its project. Questions and answers ensued.
Before I continue, let me state that we are not opposed to renewable energy including solar.
We informed Mr. Stroud from Cipriani that New York State’s Tug Hill Commission recommends building these solar farms on brownfield properties, and adjacent to industrial sites, but do not build in residential communities. Mr. Stroud was not impressed. We pointed out that under the Pilot Program, the tax revenue to the town would be nominal. This represents zero growth for the town of Minetto. Regarding the residents, after speaking to two real estate agents, our property values would drop, and our taxes would remain the same. Not exactly a just reward for putting up with this for the next 25 years. The project will be as close to 50 to 100 feet from our homes. Mr. Stroud pointed out when finished the solar farm would generate for 500 homes with a 10% discount. We countered that any resident has the same discount from existing solar farms and we do not have to build one next to our homes to have the benefit of this. The last question asked that evening was this: “Sir, in the view of the many reasons we have pointed out to you, while this project represents zero growth for the community and it harms the residents, why would the town of Minetto and its residents want this project?” His answer was, “Well, you see, Cipriani has entered into an agreement with the Simmons family to either purchase or lease the land” — and this was the hyprocrisy of his answer — “You see, the owners of the property could refuse this project and pursue a different project that would further adversley affect the community. So basically, their project is not as bad as perhaps another one. Wow!
We should be aware that if this project goes through, all areas of our surrounding community could face similar situations. So here we are on this beautiful fall day, writing letters considering our next move.
For anyone interested, there was a continuation of last week’s meeting on Tuesday at the Minetto Town Hall. This meeting will then shift to our Planning Board on Nov. 3.
Michael & Joanne Segretto