Granville Then & Now – Bridge work continues; solar farm proposed

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

Work continues on the right-of-way phase of the Church Street bridge replacement project. Brush was cleared around the south approach the week of Jan. 18. A new pole was installed Jan. 20, and the power drop to the shed on the 44 Church Street property was relocated to use the new pole. NYSEG made great progress with their part of the phase on Jan. 25.

The new power line crossing the Mettowee River was connected to the previous existing line on Church Street at the same pole as the Water Street power line. The old power line going south along the Mettowee River that used the pole on the southeast corner of the bridge was removed. The power line that passed over the bridge itself was also removed. The poles at the southwest and northeast corners of the bridge were then trimmed by NYSEG just above the lines of the other utilities. With these developments, NYSEG has completed their work at the Church Street bridge, and the utility poles and lines are now ready to be worked on by the other utilities.

Some area residents have wondered about another structure in the Church Street bridge right-of-way besides utility poles: the former Knotty Pine Tavern building at 34 Church Street, at the northwest corner of the bridge. This building has been at this location since before the 1920 bridge was built and was raised up to the height of the new roadway after the bridge was completed. The tavern operated for many years, well into the 1980s. The building has been vacant since then, and in that time the building’s condition has deteriorated.

The tavern building was acquired in late 2017 by Washington County, along with two other properties at the northern approach of the bridge, in preparation for the bridge replacement. Since the building was bought by the county, the windows have been frequently broken into. For a brief time, the broken windows were replaced, but this soon gave way to covering over the broken windows with plywood.

The former tavern building at the Church Street bridge is to be demolished as part of the bridge’s replacement project. This will be received well by those who have voiced their concerns about the building, whether in safety terms as concerns that the building would collapse, or in aesthetic terms as an unsightly eyesore.

Last year, Middle Granville had a new development, in the form of a Dollar General store. Middle Granville may get another development in a year’s time: a solar farm. U.S. Light Energy is interested in building a solar panel farm off Route 22 just south of its intersection with Route 22A. Representatives of C.T. Male Associates, the architectural firm designing the solar farm, attended the Granville Town Planning Board meeting on Jan. 19.

The C.T. Male reps discussed plans for the solar farm in detail before the planning board members. The solar farm will be built on part of the parcel known as 160 Mineral Hill Way. The entire parcel is 181 acres and sits west of Route 22. At its north end, the property sits behind the Curtis Lumber property, with which it shares a property line on the north side. At the south end, it shares a property line with the former Braymer parcel, west of where Mettowee Street meets Route 22. The solar farm will only be built on about 16 acres at the property’s northern end. This section is behind the Curtis Lumber store and yard on Route 22.

The property owner, Mark Tatko, approached the company with interest in placing a solar farm on the property. Tatko had previously arranged several years ago to allow for the placing of a cellular tower on the hill near the south end of the parcel.

The land is to be cleared, graded flat, and fenced in. An access driveway is planned to be built on a prior existing easement on the Curtis Lumber property, following the bush and tree row to Route 22.

The solar panels will face south and be tilted at a degree of about 25 degrees. The solar panel assemblies will be 12 feet tall at their highest point. The panels will have an anti-glare material. The trees and brush already existing on the north property line will be kept, and augmented, to “beautify” the project. A similar tree line will be done facing the Curtis Lumber property.

The solar farm is projected to generate 2 megawatts of AC photovoltaic power. The lifetime of the solar farm will be at least 25 years. If the solar farm gets approved and constructed this year, it would stay in use through 2046. The generated power output of the solar farm will connect to the power grid by means of the NYSEG power line that goes along Route 22.

The community aspect of the solar farm will be in the form of credited discounts on power bills. Interested homes and businesses will be able to apply for these discounts. At most, there will be about 300 openings for local homes. This number would decrease somewhat if businesses also applied and were approved. The discount was estimated at about 10% off the regular power bill cost.

The planning board decided for the official public hearing concerning the solar farm project to be held at their March meeting, on March 23. However, it was noted that public comment on the project can also be made during the regular public comment time at the planning board’s February meeting, to be held Feb. 16, and is encouraged.

Granville is no stranger to solar projects; a solar farm was built several years ago on the former golf course off Ritchie Road, and a few solar panels were installed about a decade ago along River Valley Drive in front of Family Dentistry.