Riverhead adopts 12-month moratorium on new commercial solar energy applications

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The Town of Riverhead has adopted a one-year moratorium on new commercial solar energy applications.

City council voted 4-0 at its regular meeting on Tuesday to adopt the 12-month moratorium to give the city time to update its comprehensive plan with a chapter outlining the needs to balance renewable energy needs and a strategy for the preservation of agriculture in Riverhead. Officials had contemplated the move amid concerns among residents of the Calverton area that too many solar projects had been proposed or passed in previous years.

City councilor Frank Beyrodt abstained from the vote.

Councilor Catherine Kent, who voted in favor of the moratorium, said on Tuesday it came “a little too late” after two solar projects – the 36-megawatt Riverhead Solar 2 solar farm in Calverton and a 22-megawatt commercial solar installation. , 9 megawatts from LI Solar Generation, a company with NextEra Energy and National Grid – were approved earlier this year. However, Kent said the moratorium was necessary as the city is taking time to decide how to move forward with future projects.

“I think it’s important to take a break,” said Kent, adding that she would like to see North Fork Environmental Council vice-chairman Mark Haubner and others who know solar power come over and talk. to the city in the future.

Riverhead supervisor Yvette Aguiar told Newsday on Wednesday that the city had already considered a moratorium last year, but that it was filed after a public hearing in September 2020 due to reluctance from environmental groups and advocates renewable energies.

Toqui S. Terchun, president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association, asked on Wednesday why the city failed to act when its civic group contacted them last year to declare a solar moratorium.

A letter dated September 10, 2020 from the group asked the board of directors to include the NextEra and Solar 2 projects in the moratorium and to declare a moratorium on further industrial development in the Calverton area “until an approach Comprehensive and cumulative zoning and the extent of industrial development ‘in the community could be determined.

Of the city council’s unanimous vote on Wednesday, Terchun told Newsday: “This is an inadequate moratorium. It’s too little, too late.”

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