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Mastic solar array proposal temporarily withdrawn by developer

The plan for the 100-acre site has been opposed by environmentalists and is the subject of a lawsuit by neighbors and civic groups.

The developer of a proposed commercial solar array in Mastic has temporarily withdrawn its plan after Brookhaven Town Planning Board members said they “couldn’t approve” it.

In a statement read at Monday’s board meeting, chairman Vincent Pascale said the developer, Middle Island Solar Farm, had not secured a contract with LIPA that conformed with its originally proposed 19.6 megawatts. PSEG Long Island has said it granted Middle Island just over 14.65 megawatts of power purchase agreements, which are contracts to purchase energy from the array.

“The applicant is seeking to clear trees and begin construction on the project without having secured 19.6 megawatts in power purchase agreements,” Pascale said, according to a written statement provided to Newsday.

Gerald Rosengarten, managing partner of Middle Island Solar Farm, in a statement said the withdrawal was temporary.

“We withdrew our application for specific reasons and will be resubmitting it shortly with additional information, specifically proof that we have all the power purchase agreements,” he said.

The project is the subject of a lawsuit filed by neighbors and the Associated Brookhaven Civic Organization, seeking to block the array on the 100-acre site, for which around 60 acres will be cleared. It’s also the subject of a proposed state law that seeks to make the parcel part of the core pine barrens, a move that would block any solar development. Residents and activists rallied last weekend to urge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to sign the legislation, which was approved by the State Legislature in the summer.

Some environmentalists approve of the project, saying it’s better than warehouses or other light industrial uses for which the property is zoned.

But other groups, including the Pine Barrens Society and the Brookhaven civic group, have said the project exemplifies a misguided policy of “green for green,” in which trees and undeveloped land are cleared for the purpose of producing no-emission energy. They say big solar projects are better located on commercial building rooftops, parking lots and brownfields.

Brookhaven Town has adopted a commercial solar code that limits the amount of undeveloped land that can be cleared, and encourages projects on roofs and parking lots.

Last week, Rosengarten said he’d spoken to a Brookhaven Town official about locating part of a his project on land connected to the town landfill. It’s unclear whether the proposal will move forward.

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