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Mastic solar farm plan spurs civic group complaints

A rendering of the proposed Mastic solar farm

A rendering of the proposed Mastic solar farm that would produce 19.2 megawatts of energy on what is now a privately owned wooded lot on Moriches-Middle Island Road in Mastic is shown. Hearings on the plant are scheduled for late March. Credit: MISF

A proposed solar farm in Mastic is running up against stiff resistance by civic leaders who are demanding that the 100-acre property be preserved.

Developer Jerry Rosengarten, who built the Bowery Hotel in Manhattan and is credited with designing the leisure suit, went before the Brookhaven Town planning and zoning boards this week in an effort to move the 19.2-megawatt solar array forward. A megawatt of solar powers around 160 homes.

Asked before the zoning board hearing Wednesday if he’d consider selling or swapping his parcel for one that is less environmentally sensitive, Rosengarten suggested that he might be open to another site.

“I want to build a solar farm,” he said.

Rosengarten was seeking a zoning variance on the town’s 200-foot frontage requirement for the industrially zoned lot to 50 feet. The zoning board won’t act on the request until the town completes an environmental-impact statement review.

Eleven residents, civic leaders and environmental activists criticized the plan, which would clear around 60 acres of woodlands on a parcel at the headwaters of the Forge River.

Speakers cited the project’s potential impact on wildlife, the river, home values and road safety.

“What is wrong with us that we can’t seem to do anything that keeps the Forge River ... as a thriving waterway?” said MaryAnn Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organizations, who has threatened to sue to stop the project.

But Jordan Christensen of environmental group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the group “strongly” supported the plan.

She called the solar farm a “beneficial and prudent use of the land,” and said native vegetation and natural buffers would “offset visual impacts.”

The proposal would place a nearly mile-long array of 67,000 solar panels up 18-feet high on two-thirds of the 100-acre wooded lot on Moriches-Middle Island Road just east of Brookhaven Calabro Airport.

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