There were only a couple of items on the Aug. 6 Candor Planning Board agenda, leading Chairman Ed Evans to declare that it would be a short meeting. “The mail slot was pretty empty for once,” he chuckled. With four of the five board members present, Evans called the meeting to order. Also in attendance were the clerk, town webmaster, and three citizens.
The first item of business was updating the “Solar Energy” section of the Candor Town Site Plan Review Law. Found in Appendix B, this section enumerates specific considerations for siting, building, and decommissioning large-scale solar energy systems. In particular, the planning board wants to clarify the law regarding fencing around these systems.
Currently, the law reads: “All Large-Scale Solar Energy Systems shall be enclosed by fencing to prevent unauthorized access. The type of fencing shall be determined by the Town Planning Board. Warning signs with the owner’s contact information shall be placed on the entrance and perimeter of the fencing. Except for the primary company, no other signs are permitted unless required for safety or compliance.” You can find the entire law at the town’s website, towncandor.digitaltowpath.org:10613/content/Laws/View/61.
As it stands, the Candor law leaves determination of fence height totally up to the board. Board members would like to reword the law so that it aligns with New York State building codes. Apparently the Candor board isn’t the only one seeking guidance. To help inform local officials, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has developed a Model Solar Energy Local Law. Their document seems to suggest that “All mechanical equipment, including any structure for storage batteries, shall be enclosed by a [7-foot-high] fence, as required by NEC, with a self-locking gate to prevent unauthorized access.”
Board Member Ken Kafka wondered if perhaps only the high voltage area might require a 7-foot-high fence. “Could we have a four-foot-high fence around the entire project?” he asked. Board Member Robin Beebe mentioned that she has seen a number of solar projects in different towns and not noticed fencing. Evans agreed, but pointed out that large-scale projects have tall fencing as well as signage.
“If we’re going to put anything in our regulation, we should make it reflect the standard,” he said. But without Candor Town Code Enforcement Officer Marty Jerzak, the planning board was left with too many questions. They tabled the topic until such time as they received answers from Jerzak.
The remainder of discussion concerned a food truck that had popped up on the property of Relyea Towing. According to the plans filed with the planning board, the company provides towing services, makes minor repairs to cars and trucks, and stores repossessed vehicles.
“We didn’t approve anything about food vending,” said Kafka, adding that it was not part of their site plan review or any other documentation they filed. Evans noted that food trucks must follow standards, even if those standards are not encoded in town laws. There was a question about whether they had applied for a peddler’s license, as well as concerns about off-property signs along Rt. 96 and a potential for creating pedestrian traffic.
A week later, at the Aug. 13 town board meeting, Evans reported that some of the concerns had been addressed. The food truck did have relevant certification and obtained a peddler’s license, though the signs remain an issue.
After relating that the Town Board approved the 2019 schedule of fees, Evans reminded board members that they are required to obtain four hours of training each year. He mentioned online opportunities as well as conferences and county training sessions.
Over the summer, the planning board had reduced their meeting schedule to their regular first Tuesday of the month. Beginning in September, they will resume their workshop meetings, held on the fourth Monday of the month. Workshop meetings provide board members an opportunity to discuss projects at length and share information. Votes and action are taken at the regular Tuesday meetings. All planning board meetings are open to the public and are held at Town Hall at 7 p.m. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 3.