Newsday observes that there's a lack of knowledge about the best sites for solar "farms," which has led to a number of contentious debates ["Stick to facts in debate about local solar farms," Editorial, June 10].
The Suffolk County Planning Commission has adopted a solar energy code for large-scale solar farms that establishes parameters to balance renewable energy with environmental and community aesthetic needs ["Solar pushes limits," News, June 29].
The code was drafted by a group that included community leaders, solar industry consultants, renewable-energy advocates and elected officials. It includes a preference for installations on industrially zoned land, to lessen environmental and community impact, and to avoid the loss of agricultural land. The code also addresses maximum tree clearance, based on the protective pine barrens standards, to protect habitats. It requires significant screening buffers, to reduce the visual impact on nearby residences, as well as maximum lot coverage by solar panels.
The planning commission also recommended that PSEG Long Island prioritize placement of utility solar installations on already cleared areas, such as our sea of parking lots, and that it create a more predictable application process for utility solar installations. The process should integrate land-use policies so that unnecessary squabbles between developers and communities can be avoided.
David L. Calone, Setauket
Editor's note: The writer is the chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.