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Smithtown: Kings Park solar farm needs no environmental review

A Poughkeepsie energy company’s plan to build a solar farm in Kings Park passed a crucial hurdle this week when the Smithtown Town Board determined that no environmental impact statement would be necessary for the project.

The decision clears the way for a local subsidiary of BQ Energy to build the 27-acre, 18,000 panel facility. Company officials expect work to start next spring and take about three to four months. The four megawatt facility is expected to produce enough energy in its first year to power more than 1,000 homes, with Long Island Power Authority buying the electricity under a 20-year contract.

Plans call for eight-foot arborvitae hedges to surround much of the Old Northport Road facility, screening neighborhoods to the north and south. The proposed 11-foot solar panels are designed to minimize reflection, according to a September report by Smithtown Assistant Environmental Protection Director Howard Barton III.

The facility, built on top of a former municipal landfill that closed in 1979, is expected to generate $270,000 to $400,000 annually in taxes or payments in lieu of taxes for the town and other jurisdictions, according to Barton’s report.

BQ Energy will operate under a 25-year lease with the Izzo family, which owns the property.

“The landfill use is a great fit for Long Island,” said BQ Energy managing director Paul Curran. “There really aren’t that many tracts of land that are appropriate to redevelop.”

Smithtown’s Town Board voted 4-0 to issue the negative declaration, with councilman Edward Wehrheim absent.

Opponents of the project had argued that methane seeping up from the landfill could be hazardous or that electricity generated from sunlight would inherit properties of the sun itself, including radioactivity.

“There is no credible evidence in the scientific or technical literature” to indicate that is the case, Barton wrote.

Neil Rosenberg, who lives in the nearby Country Pointe at Kings Park and is president of the homeowner’s association, said he had not read the report and remained concerned about the possibility of radiation being emitted from the solar array.

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