Vote Looms on Zoning Change for Mt. Kisco Solar Displays

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A vote on legislation that would regulate solar arrays in Mount Kisco may be headed for a vote on Monday after the Village Board closed the public hearing on the matter last week.

Mayor Gina Picinich said she believes the key issues debated in the proposed zoning text changes have been addressed in response to public comments. Adhering to the 25-foot setback of ground-mounted displays, which is consistent with the current zoning that pertains to graves and structures at cemeteries, and accommodating for appropriate fencing to more easily allow for the movement of wildlife between properties were two key provisions that Picinich said have been satisfied.

“I think that we’ve gotten to a place that meets the broader need,” Picinich said.

The process to more effectively regulate the use of solar panels in the village was needed in order to consider a proposal from Oakwood Cemetery for a ground-mounted array. The cemetery’s representatives are looking to lease a portion of the property that they don’t plan to use for several decades.

Originally, an overlay district was proposed but village officials opted to address the issue in the zoning code.

Picinich said the proposed legislation could also potentially address solar panels on open-air carports in parking lots and a couple of other properties that are large enough for arrays.

Doug Hertz, a partner at Sunrise Solar Solutions in Briarcliff Manor, which would install the array at the cemetery, said his firm was approached by Oakwood representatives following his presentation relating to the village installing solar panels at the old landfill. He said the project would be beneficial for Mount Kisco if it moves forward.

“We’re trying to do a project that we really thought would benefit the community,” said Hertz. “Oakwood needs revenue, this provides revenue for them. From an environmental point of view, we think this is a stunning win for everyone. It provides savings to the residents.”

Up to 200 village residents would have the opportunity to acquire all of their energy needs from the project at a lower cost, Hertz added.

Despite the Village Board closing the hearing on Nov. 5, there was still skepticism.

Village Historian Harry McCartney, who said he supports solar power, continued to express concern that solar projects could be developed in sensitive areas. He said that residents and trustees were not adequately informed about the risks of allowing solar arrays in the Preservation and Conservation Development districts.

Trustee Karen Schleimer, the lone trustee who wanted to keep the hearing open, said new information regarding solar power is coming to light on an almost daily basis. The village should not be in a rush on such a major issue.

“I think there’s a way to provide a great deal of opportunities without making a final determination on this ground-mounted solar display,” Schleimer said.

Resident Beth Vetare Civitello said she supported the legislation moving forward.

“The proposal before the board has been looked at, edited and added to,” she said.

Picinich said the Oakwood project would need special permit approval by the Planning Board that requires rigorous review.

Neal Rentz contributed to this article.

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