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Ithaca Solar Village

Only one person chose to speak at the Village of Lansing Planning Board's public hearing on a proposed 43-home development Monday, but that comment mirrored the Planning Board's positive reception to the Ithaca Solar Village project.  The speaker was Tompkins County Legislator Deborah Dawson (D- Villages of Lansing and Cayuga Heights), who is a Village of Lansing resident.

"I would like to speak in support of this development," Dawson said. "The sizes of the units are consistent with our comprehensive plan that seeks to have housing units of varying sizes. I commend the net-zero quality of the buildings. It's certainly the wave of the future, and complying with the CLCPA (New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act) going forward we need more of these projects that are climate and energy conscious.  I also like the clustering of the houses, because it preserves green space.  So congratulations -- it's a nice plan."

The proposed development is planned for 24.4 acres on Warren Road between Northwood and Dart Drives.  The homes will range between 850 to 1,550 square feet.  While they will be connected to the electric grid, the houses are designed to run on solar power with zero electric and heating costs.  The homes will be clustered on the north side of the property to preserve forest and wetlands on the southern portion.

Planning Board Lisa Schleelein said, "Normally you want to keep as many trees, but this is a net-zero project as we pointed out there is, there's not a trade off here. We're not giving up anything."

Schleelein was referring to comments made by Planning Board alternate member Tony Ingraffea two weeks ago, when he said he endorses the project because it is environmentally friendly.

"Let's compare and contrast this proposed development with the kind where they kill all the trees," he said. "From a greenhouse gas point of view you can subtract greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere or you can add them to the atmosphere. That kind of development doesn't subtract. It only adds.  Here you're subtracting but you're not adding. Okay, you killed some trees, so you're reducing the amount that you could subtract because the trees are sequestration  units, but you're not adding anything because it's solar. You're not burning any fossil fuels to electrify or to heat these buildings. So there's a distinct advantage from a climate change point of view."

The public hearing was left open until the board's next meeting at the end of February because some final details, such as a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) and possible access restrictions have yet to be completed.  Schleelein said she expects the board to vote on an Environmental Assessment Form (EAF).

"We are pretty much in agreement that we support it in general," Schleelein said. "So far, so good."

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