|East Lake solar farm in Uxbridge, Massachusetts
The proposed site, which is located within the area outlined in red on the above map, has issues that go beyond being in a watershed. It is next to a prison, yes, but the part of the Hudson Correctional Facility that it abuts is in fact the grounds of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, and the Dr. Oliver Bronson House and Estate are a National Historic Landmark. The NHL designation encompasses a total of fifty-five acres. The solar array, sited where proposed, would be visible from all three floors of the Bronson House, from various points along the carriage road, and many other places on the estate.
|Image from National Park Service NP Gallery
East Light Partners have elsewhere sited solar arrays on landfills. They are currently working on building a solar farm on the town landfill in Saugerties. In an article that appeared in the Kingston Freeman, town supervisor Fred Costello is quoted as saying, "That land has never been on the tax rolls; there's no assessment that's applicable because it's the former dump." That's certainly not the case with the land in Greenport that East Light Partners are now proposing as a site for their solar array. Last year, Randall+West, then consultants to the Conservation Advisory Council in preparing its Open Space and Natural Resources Inventory, identified the very area that is the proposed site of the solar array as "Farmland of Statewide Significance."
This 1952 aerial photograph shows that in living memory the land was being used for agriculture.
|Historic Aerials 1952 courtesy Historic Hudson
- prioritize development on previously disturbed areas
- protect agricultural lands and promote co-location
- protect natural beauty
- protect ecological resources
- protect historic and cultural resources
- maintain the purpose of conserved lands
- avoid and minimize new transmission and distribution lines
- use construction and operation best practices
- promote sustainable renewable energy development through planning and zoning
This proposed siting seems in conflict with a few of these principles but one most significantly: "protect historic and cultural resources." Not only would the solar array be visible from the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, Hudson's own and only National Historic Landmark, it would also be visible from Olana, whose viewshed has always been scrupulously and robustly defended.
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