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Great Valley Considers Solar, Mining Changes

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Playground Donations Sought

By Jennie Acklin

The Town of Great Valley opened the April 13 board meeting with a public hearing on two petitions for rezoning which, if approved, will require amendment to the Great Valley comprehensive plan. The petitions address individual and utility-scale Solar Energy Systems and the Creation of Sand, Gravel and Clay Mining Overlay District.

The public hearing will remain open until the May 11 board meeting to allow the Cattaraugus County Planning Board 30 days to review the petition and make a determination.

The Solar Energy Systems petition reads as follows:

Individual: Solar energy systems provide energy to just the property they service and are supported by public policy and government funding. Individual solar energy systems should be an allowed use via a special use permit in the Town.

Utility Scale: Solar energy systems are larger and sell energy to the grid and, at this time, should not be allowed due to their size until further study can be conducted and the Town can learn from allowing individual solar energy systems.

For individuals wishing to install solar panels, the town will require that the system cannot exceed 125 percent of the property’s energy needs. A special use permit will be required. All setback requirements must be met and the solar device must located in the rear yard and may not cover more than 25 percent of the rear yard. Rooftop solar panels are already allowable without a permit.

The Creation of Sand, Gravel and Clay Mining Overlay District petition reads:

When Great Valley’s comprehensive plan was adopted in 2007, it allowed a maximum of five gravel mines, and stated that a mining district would adversely affect the potential for agricultural use of the property.

Now, in 2015, there are still five permitted mines in operation, but the amount of mineable land has been reduced significantly since 2007. This includes the Town’s gravel mine, which only has five acres of mineable land remaining. This means that when the Town’s gravel mine is depleted, the Town will have to purchase sand, gravel and clay, resulting in increased costs to truck materials in.

Regarding agricultural land, it is true that mining reduces agricultural land. There does not seem to be a demand for agricultural land and some farms have ceased to be used for agricultural use. Also, while public policy favors agriculture, there is no public policy argument against mining.

According to Town Supervisor Dan Brown, “there is a five year process for permitting new mines through the Department of Environmental Conservation. We were short-sighted in 2007 [about how quickly these would be depleted] and we can now implement our own criteria for our own gravel pit.”

Town Clerk Toni Evans stated that any persons interested in commenting on either public hearing may mail a letter, drop it off at the Town Hall or comment in person at the next meeting.

Regular Board Meeting

Several items were discussed during the regular meeting, including preliminary review of NYS property maintenance code with regard to campers and trailers. Further research and a possible discussion with the Planning Board will be completed before the board makes any recommendations.

Security for the 40th Great Valley Regatta was also a topic of discussion. The Great Valley Fire Department would like to host fireworks on Saturday, May 2. The board noted that all necessary NYS regulations, certifications, permits and insurance must be met, and the Town needs to give permission/permit approval contingent on being named additionally on the special use insurance policy “in a form satisfactory to the Town.”

New Playground Equipment

The Town has been working on a proposed plan for a new pavilion and playground to be located on the side lawn at the Town Hall.

Next week, a drawing and complete proposal will be presented to the board, with hopes of having the playground equipment installed in June. The GV Youth Program starts in July, with approximately 45 kids each day. Donations to help fund this playground are encouraged, and may be sent to the Town of Great Valley Youth Program, 4808 Route 219 / PO Box 427, Great Valley, NY 14741.

Memorial Trees

Brown suggested planting two memorial trees in front of the town hall or in the town park to honor two Great Valley residents and town board members who recently passed,  Ted LaCroix and Dean Eberle. It was also mentioned that anyone interested in purchasing memorial stones at the town park may do so by contacting the Town of Great Valley.

$121,868.33 CHIPS Funds Received

Town Highway Superintendent Jack Halloran reported that GV received a larger than usual amount of Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) money this year. The average amount is approximately $106,000, but due to an unusually hard winter, $121,868.33 was received from NYSDOT.

CHIPS provides funds to municipalities to support construction and repair of highways, bridges, railroad crossings and other facilities that are not part of the state highway system.

The next regular meeting of the Town of Great Valley board is scheduled for Monday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at the Great Valley Town Hall, 4808 Route 219.

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