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Lattingtown enacts moratorium on solar panel and wind turbine installations

Lattingtown Mayor Clarence Michalis at his home on

Lattingtown Mayor Clarence Michalis at his home on June 19, 2013. Credit: Ana Maria Rico

The Lattingtown Village Board has enacted a six-month moratorium on solar panels and wind turbines while the village attorney and trustees craft regulations governing their installation.

The measure passed unanimously on Wednesday -- when the board obtained a supermajority vote needed to override last month's rejection of the proposed moratorium by the Nassau County Planning Commission.

Mayor Clarence Michalis said the village needs the moratorium while it writes regulations for alternative energy installations.

"We're going to have to live with it, it's here; what we want to do is make sure that installations . . . are done in a way that are aesthetically pleasing and don't compromise the culture of the village," he said at the meeting.

"We've got to be careful, and I think we should take our time to have a statute that permits all these things to happen, but don't in any way damage the neighbors."

On Dec. 18, the county planning commission voted to deny the moratorium and said the village had many examples on Long Island and a model ordinance -- the Long Island Unified Solar Permit Initiative -- adopted by the commission that it could refer to when crafting its policy.

The commission wrote that it "does not support a moratorium" and "the village should utilize the resources available to prepare and adopt its own ordinance regarding the installation of alternative energy structures."

Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, an East Hampton-based advocacy group, said the village's actions create uncertainty and could raise costs for homeowners because installers might have to comply with regulations that may vary among municipalities.

"It's very difficult for solar installers who operate all over the county, or all over both counties, to deal with these different requirements," Raacke said. "They may just go down the street and all of a sudden they have very different permitting requirements, and that raises the costs."

Michalis said the catalyst for their action was the board's approval of a permit for a homeowner to install solar panels on his roof, which trustees had not dealt with before.

Other municipalities have taken a range of approaches. Huntington has a moratorium on the installation of wind turbines. In 2010, the Village of Flower Hill, which also had a moratorium on solar panel installation, amended its code to regulate the systems and their aesthetic impact.

Oyster Bay requires special permits for solar panels, which can only be installed on roofs.

PSEG Long Island reported that 11,578 solar systems installed since 2000 in Nassau and Suffolk have received state rebates.

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