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Skidmore solar plan given the OK

GREENFIELD — Skidmore College’s contentious plan to build a giant solar array received the go-ahead from the Town Board Thursday night, despite local opposition that it would mar the mostly rural character of the town’s Denton Road corridor.

Town Board members approved the college’s plan for a two-megawatt solar power system on its 120-acre field in a 4-to-1 vote.

In September, the Greenfield Planning Board ruled that a key part of the project, an eight-acre sun farm, would not harm the environment.

Opponents have argued that the project’s 6,950 solar panels will devalue the surrounding farmlands that are essential to the town’s character and jam roads from Saratoga Springs with traffic. They have also contended that the Denton Road site is neither zoned nor suited for the development.

Neither the town zoning code nor its comprehensive plan specifically address solar projects. In August, the Town Board rejected requests for a moratorium on solar projects.

“We continue to believe that the project has great benefit for the town and the college,” said Michael Hall, assistant to the college’s vice president.

He said about 40 people turned up for the vote, which was taken after about an hour of discussion by board members.

The sun farm’s 3-by-6-foot solar panels would be built behind the college’s baseball field, about 900 feet from the road and 1,100 feet from the nearest residence. It would generate about 2.6 million kilowatt hours annually, about 12 percent of the campus’ total electricity needs.

Skidmore received a $2.35 million grant through the state’s NY-Sun initiative for the project.

kbrown@timesunion.com, 518-454-5035, @kristenvbrown ___

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