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Farming the sun in Macedon

In years past, corn, soybeans and wheat were harvested out of the soil on the property on the north side of Barnes Road in Macedon, once belonging to Bruce Niven. If all goes as planned a new “crop” will soon fill the acreage.

The property was sold to a R.I.T. Mathematics Professor Alejandro Engel of Webster, who, in turn, has an agreement to lease the land to Abundant Solar Power, a company headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with branches and footprints throughout the United States.

Smaller farms are finding it difficult to compete in today’s marketplace. Often less desirable, unprofitable plots of land have found an ally with the rise of solar panels.

As these behemoth plates of suncapturing rays convert to electrical energy, the land is again finding purpose and profit for landowners.

According to Town of Macedon Engineer, Scott Allen, current and proposed solar fields, usually in the 15 to 20 acre range, are finding that Macedon’s zoning and experience are welcoming solar development. “We have zoning that is understandable for these projects,” said Scott.

Times of Wayne County

Sites are chosen, and special use permits are given after careful review involving the use of fencing, land, or tree buffer berms to conceal, as much as possible, the solar panels from either nearby houses, or roads.

Macedon regulations include that a solar field must be 1000 feet from any State road; 500 feet from any residence; and 100 feet from any adjoining property line. Plans must also include any future decommissioning of the solar fields.

Allen stated that with the advancement in solar fields and future panel technology, these fields could be in use for generations.

Currently, Macedon has one operational field off Route 31, down on Wilson Road. That 15-20 acre site is so well hidden that during normal growing seasons, it is almost completely hidden. Allen stated it was key to Town approval that sites be chosen in out-of-the-way locations that can barely be seen.

When the Town of Macedon first approved the Wilson Road site, they worked with the developing company by granting a PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes), where the company made a pre-set amount.

The Town decided after the initial solar project to move forward without any PILOT in place; rather have the land and project assessed and taxed under a formula developed by New York State.

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