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Solar farm OKd at site of former landfill in Kings Park

Smithtown town board members have approved a special exception for a solar farm in Kings Park on about 27 acres on Old Northport Road.

Kings Park Solar LLC, a subsidiary of BQ Energy — a Poughkeepsie-based renewable energy company that has built more than three dozen solar and wind farms on landfills and underused land across the country — plans to install about 18,000 solar panels on a former town-operated landfill. The company won a 20-year contract in 2014 to sell power generated at the site to the Long Island Power Authority, said Paul Curran, founder and managing director of BQ Energy.

The solar farm is expected to produce enough energy in its first year to power more than 1,000 homes in New York State, Curran said Wednesday in an interview.

“We’re using land that has no other purpose — a landfill,” he said. “It’s really very good land use planning — that you could reuse this type of land for environmental benefit.”

BQ Energy hopes to be under construction in Kings Park by the end of the year, Curran said.

The solar farm proposal sparked health concerns at a November public hearing, with some area residents saying they believed the project could generate radiation and noise.

Kenny Henderson, a member of Prospect Sports Partners LLC, has said prospective tenants have pulled out of his multimillion-dollar sports complex project, fearful that the adjacent solar farm could harm children using the sports facility. Henderson’s project received site plan approval in July, before the solar farm was proposed. He declined to comment on the board’s approval of the solar farm.

Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and Councilman Thomas McCarthy said the town legally had to approve the application because it met all requirements for a special exception, such as having adequate buffers and not adversely impacting the environment.

Vecchio said he thought the project was a good use and would not affect residents’ health. “If that were the case, then every home in the Town of Smithtown with solar panels would be disallowed.”

Linda Henninger, vice president of the Kings Park Civic Association, said the project is a “win-win for the community,” — especially since the state Department of Environmental Conservation is requiring BQ Energy to consolidate two piles of contaminated construction and demolition waste left on the site by previous owners, and cap and monitor it.

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