ARKWRIGHT – The last meeting of the Arkwright Town Board was very heated regarding one of the three local laws the council voted on.
The city’s proposed Solar Energy Bill was voted on last session, but things haven’t gone smoothly at all. The council voted after a public hearing on the legislation, which outlines key points for regulating private-use solar and large-scale utility solar energy systems.
However, City Supervisor Brian McAvoy cast the only vote in favor of the law, which did not pass. City Board members Chris Jackson and Lynn Bedford both voted against the bill, while Bruce Gustafson abstained because the bill would not pass regardless of the vote. Board member Larry Ball was absent because he was late for the meeting.
OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Arkwright City Supervisor Brian McAvoy expressed his frustration after the City Council voted not to adopt a Solar Energy Act to regulate the use of solar energy in Arkwright. Arkwright Town Board Member Lynn Bedford voted against the proposed Solar Energy Bill at the most recent Arkwright Town Board meeting.
When the bill failed to pass, McAvoy’s frustration with the rest of the board became clear.
“(The law) applies to the sun zone. This does not mean that we accept solar energy. They say that when solar energy comes, it comes with this kind of leadership,” McAvoy said. “… We’ve talked about 20 times here to protect neighbors and I have two councilors sitting here saying, ‘I don’t care about protecting my neighbors.’
Bedford immediately responded to McAvoy’s comment. “Don’t mince words,” Bedford said. “Are you telling me what I said? Sorry? I have a different point of view and the people elected me to represent that point of view. My point of view may differ from yours. “I don’t like to be considered a badger because of my point of view.”
McAvoy squeezed Bedford from his point of view. “How does your perspective drive the next person who wants to put solar in their backyard? How does your point of view respond to that,” McAvoy asked. Bedford replied, “That is not up for debate. They asked me to vote yes or no, and I did.”
Jackson responded with direct opposition to the law in question, arguing that the proposed 300-foot setback for large-scale utility systems was insufficient for failure. “If they set 300 to 500, I would vote yes — and I’ve always said 500,” Jackson said. “I don’t want it to turn into what wind turbines do.”
McAvoy reiterated his frustration after a member of the public asked a question. “Frankly, he is nervous. We put a lot of work into it and you think you understand,” McAvoy said. “… If we come back with 500m failures, will that time pass? This is probably the next step.”
The other two proposed bills on the session’s agenda — the Cannabis Dispensary Regulation Act and the Code Enforcement Requirements Act — both passed without issue. Like McAvoy, Jackson, Gustafson and Ball, who came after the Sunshine Act was rejected, Bedford was the lone vote against each proposed law.
Ball noted that he voted against allowing cannabis dispensaries outright in Arkwright, but voted in favor of the legislation, given that the vote was to regulate cannabis dispensaries only because they would be allowed in Arkwright. Highlights of the cannabis dispensary law include requiring a special use permit, limited hours of operation, no drive-thru service, no open-air storage, a setback of 500 feet from any site where children regularly congregate, and the dispensary cannot be maintained. in the residence itself. Many of the regulations that apply to the operation of cannabis dispensaries are set by New York State.
Highlights of the passed code enforcement law included the creation of a code enforcement officer—which Arkwright already used—and City Council oversight of code enforcement and periodic review of permit rates.
The next regular meeting of the Town Council will also serve as an organizational meeting, scheduled for Monday, January 16, at Arkwright Town Hall at 8:00 p.m.
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