Swiss Re Proposes Ground Solar Array; No. Castle Mulls Local Law

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North Castle officials are considering a local law that would regulate ground-mounted solar panel installations after Swiss Re recently proposed installing a roughly 9,000-panel photovoltaic array on a portion of its 127-acre property in Armonk.

The current draft of the ordinance would allow rooftop and building integrated systems in all zoning districts as long as a building permit is obtained.

However, ground-mounted systems, like the one proposed by Swiss Re, which has its property and offices located at 175 King St., would be prohibited in residential districts and require site plan approval by the planning board and a special permit from the town board, said the town’s Director of Planning Adam Kaufman.

The ground-mounted arrays would need those approvals whether it would be small- or large-scale, the proposed law states. Small-scale arrays would be those that produce no more than 10 kilowatts per hour.

Kaufman said Swiss Re’s project is intended to produce as much as 60 percent of the energy that the company uses at the site.

Swiss Re’s array will be located within a 10-acre area confined to the southeastern corner of the property, said Donna Maiello, a landscape architect retained by the corporation for the project. The array would take up 9.6 acres while the other .4 acres would be needed for the underground electric system that would run back to the existing buildings, she said.

Maiello said there would be extensive screening provided by the applicant. The array would sit about 180 feet from King Street, although about six feet below grade of the street, she said. It would be about 570 feet from the closest residence on Cooney Hill Road.

Lucia Chiocchio, an attorney representing the company, said Swiss Re is hopeful of installing the posts that support the panels before winter.

“It’s important for the applicant to start this project within the next few months to avoid the delays that would be caused by winter weather conditions,” she said. “You don’t want to be putting that into the ground when the ground is frozen.”

Chiocchio said at a North Castle Planning Board meeting last month, members commented that increasing renewable energy sources is a priority for the long-term growth of the town.

Councilman Jose Berra said while he is a supporter of renewable energy, since the town is writing a new law, he wants to proceed cautiously in order to complete it correctly.

“This is something new for the town so I’d be more inclined to take it a step at a time,” Berra said.

The town board scheduled a public hearing on the law for its June 22 meeting.

 

 

 

 

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