By Buffy Calvert

On August 8th, the Planning Board met for one item. Present were Frank Winkler, Chair, Vice Chair Bill Palmer, Cricket Keyes, Harlan Dye, and Art Reed, also Kent Manuel from the Delaware County Planning Board and Joanne Boerner, Clerk. The public included Evan Bowker, IDA, for the Catskill Harvest Greenhouse Project and Buffy Calvert, Andes Gazette.

The meeting was a follow up to the Public Hearing held in July on the proposed Greenhouse on the site owned by the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and leased by Catskill Harvest. In response to questions raised at the Public Hearing, the planners have moved the structure away from neighbors to an upper tier of the parking area. The geothermal “wells” will be under the structure in a closed loop. No new water courses will be opened and they will cover any open catch basins.

In response to a question about the greenhouse being built on public land using a grant not open to private landowners, Mr. Bowker stated that this is a 2-step priority for IDA. Once the current pilot project is accomplished and the carbon-neutral greenhouse is producing marketable plants year-round, step 2 will offer IDA’s expertise for private growers to access grants and plans for their own projects. IDA hopes to cover Delaware County with working greenhouses.

IDA submitted a written narrative specifically addressing questions raised at the Public Hearing accompanied by a large map of the site.  As to lighting and noise: The work at the site will close at 7 pm and the noise level will not exceed that of traffic on Route 28. It will be downlighted so as not to disturb neighbors. As to the question of “decommissioning” in case the project should fail, IDA believes it will succeed and will be replicated all over the county. If it were to fail, IDA will adhere to Town laws covering that eventuality.

The Planning Board approved the greenhouse unanimously. Mr. Manuel reminded Board members that they are required to have 4 hours of training yearly. He will keep them posted about opportunities. Mr. Winkler raised the fact that review of the Andes Comprehensive Plan has been on hold during Covid and should now go forward. Planning Board meets next on September 12th at 7 pm at the Town Hall. ~