EnvironmentGovernmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Cortlandt Reaches Deal to Preserve 38 Acres for Open Space

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Property in the Town of Cortlandt that was once approved for 13 residential homes and envisioned to house a solar farm will instead be preserved as open space.

The Cortlandt Town Board last week approved a resolution to spend $380,000 to ensure 38 acres on Mill Court will continue to be an environmentally sensitive sanctuary for countless wildlife and open space for hikers and bikers.

Supervisor Dr. Richard Becker said the town was able to negotiate a purchasing price half of what was being sought and noted the money was coming from Cortlandt’s Open Space Fund. The transaction is subject to a permissive referendum.

“Our Conservation Advisory Council and Open Space Committee identified it as one of the number one spots to preserve in all of Cortlandt,” Becker said.

In 2005, a developer submitted a plan to build a 27-home subdivision on the site. In 2016, the Planning Board approved a scaled-down project of 13 homes, but nothing was ever built.

In 2020, CVE North America came forward with plans to clear cut 2,800 trees and install 9,504 solar panels that would extend the length of three football fields.

CVE representatives touted the environmental benefits of producing clean energy from the 4 MW solar farm and explained the area was chosen because it is situated within the ConEdison electric utility territory.

However, nearby residents criticized the plan as “a money grab” and lambasted the destruction of land that is cherished.

“I’m extremely thankful for the hard work that made this conservation possible,” Rick Ribeiro, a 26-year resident of Mill Court, told the Town Board at the Sept. 20 meeting.

“Thank you for listening to us,” Nancy Young, another resident of Mill Court, said. “It’s been a long 17 years discussing various forms of development. This is a habitat for many species.”

Becker mentioned the Westchester Land Trust played a role in assisting the town. Cortlandt has preserved more than 3,000 acres of open space during the last 30 years.

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