Property owner addresses proposed solar project

This is the proposed site of a 45-acre solar farm in the Town of Lockport by Renewable Properties. The blue areas indicate where solar arrays will go. The red areas indicate trees. (Map courtesy Town of Lockport).

The couple in the town of Lockport who plan to lease 46 acres of their farm to a solar energy development company want their neighbors to know they still own the land and plan to hold the title well into the future.

Tina Kowalski and her husband, Karl, own and operate Maverick Farm, the former Kowalski family farm, where Renewable Properties is seeking a special use permit and site approval to build a 7-megawatt solar generating facility. The acreage is between Day, Slayton Settlement, Harrington and Canal roads.

“The solar company will only be leasing the land from us, not purchasing it,” Tina Kowalski said. “We operate an organic dairy farm along with a small beef herd. As we have aged, we have realized that we are no longer (prepared) to work at the pace we did when we were younger. However, we have no desire to stop farming altogether or to sell the farm to anyone.”

The property has been in the Kowalski family for 60 years, with a fifth generation reaping its benefits, she said.

“Leaving the farm to find employment elsewhere is not something we desire to do,” Kowalski said. “Farming is our passion and something we cannot imagine not doing. Installing the solar will allow us to be able to continue farming.”

Kowalski said her family would be able to scale back on some of the more physical aspects of farming, such as milking their herd twice a day, and at the same time continue raising a beef herd and crops including organic hay and garlic.

“We wish for our neighbors to understand that we are not doing this to upset them, but instead are doing it for us, to enable us to keep doing what we love,” Kowalski said. “It will just look different than it has in the past.”

Town building inspector Brian Belson told the Union-Sun & Journal on Wednesday that the Kowalski property is currently zoned agricultural, not residential-agricultural as was previously reported.

RP will host a public forum at 6 p.m. May 12, at the Wrights Corners Volunteer Fire Company hall on Lake Avenue, to answer residents' concerns about the project.

Follow John D’Onofrio on Twitter with “Good Morning, Lockport, N.Y.” weekday mornings at @LockportJournal.

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