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Solar energy farm possibilities mulled in the city

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Ogdensburg zoning and planning officials are considering the code feasibility of allowing a solar energy farm in the city.

Meeting Wednesday, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals discussed a verbal inquiry made to Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith about setting up in a residential-business zone a solar farm that would generate energy and sell it to National Grid. She declined to identify the source of the proposal.

The zoning panel agreed to send the proposal to the city Planning Board for its review when it meets Wednesday. It will be up to the latter group to decide whether a solar farm is a permitted use in a section of Ogdensburg that is zoned residential-business.

While neither endorsing nor dismissing the proposal in particular, the zoning volunteers agree that to harness energy from the sun is a good idea.

“A lot of people want to get into solar power.” said Bonnie P. Franz.

“I’d be for it, too,” said Scott W. Thomas.

Permitted uses in a residential-business zone in city code includes street-level retail, service uses, home occupations and water-reliant businesses.

Prohibited uses include billboards, taverns, mobile homes and industrial sites.

Solar power isn’t a foreign concept in Ogdensburg. The city’s Richard G. Lockwood Civic Center on West River Street has solar panels installed on its roof.

Also, in January, the city heard from S. Ram Shrivastava, president of Larsen Engineers, Rochester, who said that Ogdensburg could become energy-independent by installing solar panels and other renewable energy generators on municipal property.

The project’s costs would be covered by grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s NY-SUN Photovoltaic Program.

A private company would apply for the grants and install the solar panels and obtain state and federal tax incentives for building clean energy facilities.

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