Making progress with water testing and solar farm guidelines


HOOSICK, N.Y. — Water testing and the ongoing solar farm debate were among the two issues mentioned at the town of Hoosick board meeting Monday night.

In the town there are 1,900 private wells that are being tested by the NYS Dept. of Health (NYSDOH). There is a map on the village website as well as public test results and updated news pertaining to the Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) contamination issue.

"Early on it was just a village issue," Surdam said, " and the subject of well testing was brought up early on, however there were a lot of dynamics and unknowns in play. The well water issue is a department of health issue for the county and for the state. It's not saying our dynamic and involvement is not the same as the village."

Testing will begin surrounding Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and work outward in a circular pattern. At first the NYSDOH was testing eight, five and 12 samples at a time but have grown to 20 samples.

A letter from Supervisor David Fleming from the town of Nassau was sent to Supervisor Mark Surdam in reassurance regarding the contaminated water and Hoosick Falls becoming a superfund site. The Dewey Loeffel Landfill has been a superfund site for 36 years now and Fleming stated that putting "a bandaid on a bullet wound" would never be the answer. The town of Nassau stands with Hoosick and Hoosick Falls as a resource.

On Tuesday's and Thursday's from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday's from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the NYSDOH and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) will be at the New York State Armory on 80 Church Street in Hoosick Falls. Al Demarco from the NYSDOH will be coordinating well testing and can be reached at 518-402-7860. Well water test requests can be made by filling out a form at the Armory, through the village website or from the NYSDOH.

Those getting wells tested and blood drawn to test for PFOA will become of a long-term study, Surdam said.

"If you do sign up for the study and come back with with PFOA in your blood, it is assumed it will come back positive. We don't know what levels or anything like that, but we'll see when they start tackling the next part of the study," Surdam said. "This is going to be going on for a while."

The wells that come back with test results at 100 parts per trillion (ppt) will be given a point of entry filtration system by the state as part of the superfund process, Surdam said. Two houses next to each other may have different ratings, which vary on the depth of the well.

Surdam posed the question of whether the town should invest in an environmental representative because even though their water wells are separate from the village's, there may be environmental impacts involved. The board plans to look into individuals and he or she will be paid to represent the town.


On the other spectrum of environmental issues, progress is being made on the concern of commercial solar farms being established in the town. A public hearing will be held on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. to hear from the community on how solar should be taxed and the pros and cons of it.

Following the hearing, the board will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on voting on a six month moratorium, which would halt any future solar projects, but not existing ones. The moratorium would now be considered local law no. 1 of 2016. The board is voting on a law that will propose an amendment to the zoning board for solar panel projects.

In April, the solar committee will present their findings on the basis of the community's concerns about solar. That includes the environmental impacts, safety and how it will benefit the town, but not involving taxes.

Hoosick Falls resident Lisa Revet questioned why the town clerk didn't obtain minutes from the solar committee meeting on Feb. 3 to which an answer couldn't be provided to her.

Another resident, Cynthia Brewster wondered why in-progress construction for solar wouldn't be stopped by a moratorium.

"They're in process, a couple have already approved, and the village one has already been built," Surdam said. "It's been approved by the zoning board. That's what we talked about originally and that's what we're going to follow through on."

Brewster reflected on opinions she received from lawyers on how construction can be stopped depending on how an ordinance and moratorium is worded.

"Because we have no existing ordinances with regards to solar and because our local law number three specifically talks about the intent and purpose of our zoning is to promote the health safety general welfare of the town the further intent of this local law is to ensure the optimum overall conservation protection, preservation, development and use of the of our natural land," Brewster said. "That if the ordinances are written in a way to show that we have no regs or ordinances in place and the moratorium is written in that way, then we can absolutely hold all existing permits."

Other boards

In other news, the board suggested the combination of the zoning and planning board in which there will be a workshop on March 23 to hear the community's opinions. The two are currently separate because neither involves politics, but both work with similar issues. Both boards have open positions and anyone interested in volunteering can contact Surdam or any other board member.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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