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CITY OF MANLIUS — Residents of neighborhoods around the proposed Bowman Road solar facility will have to wait until August to find out if the city’s zoning appeal board will withdraw planning permission for the project.
In May, Barbara Henry of Avriel Drive appealed planning permission for the project. Solicitor Dirk Oudemool, representing Henry, argues that the planning permission should be canceled because the project should be subject to the code that existed at the time the contract was signed, not the amended code, which was adopted by the council municipal earlier this year. He said he is not disputing the merits of the project, but rather the process that led to the approval of the project.
The city entered into a lease agreement with Abundant Solar for part of the landfill property in the fall of 2020 and amended that agreement in the spring of 2021. Earlier this year, the city council amended its solar code so that the city ​​council – not the planning board – would be responsible for reviewing the site plan of any solar project on city-owned land.
“After the fact, we have a change in the rules,” Oudemool told City’s ZBA in June. “You can’t take an existing relationship and now say the rules have changed.”
At its July 21 meeting, the ZBA heard from Municipal Codes Officer Tom Poitras who said he received Abundant Solar’s building permit application on April 1, 2022 and approved it on April 14, 2022. reportedly took place after the solar code was changed in March.
Filing the decision until August 18, ZBA President Tim Kelly said he wanted the council to review all documents related to the project before making a decision on planning permission.
“What I want to do is have a schedule,” ZBA President Tim Kelly said. “I want to make sure we make an appropriate decision, with all the facts in front of us.”
As the ZBA makes its decision, Oudemool has also filed a Section 78 lawsuit against the city making similar arguments in the state Supreme Court. This lawsuit, filed on behalf of four area residents, will continue in September. While the trial is ongoing, no construction will take place on the project.