Township of Rochester, PA
Beaver County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Rochester 6-17-2010 by Ord. No. 434. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES

Building construction — See Ch. 53.

International construction codes — See Ch. 60.

Subdivision and land development — See Ch. 141.

Zoning — See Ch. 162.

§ 158-1
Applicability. 

§ 158-2
Accessory use. 

§ 158-3
Commercial use. 

§ 158-4
Exceptions. 

§ 158-5
Violations and penalties; remedies. 

§ 158-1 Applicability.

The following regulations apply to all wind-energy conversion systems (WECS), equipment buildings, accessory building and structures.

§ 158-2 Accessory use.

Accessory WECS use: Accessory WECS for residential and agricultural purposes must comply with the following requirements:

A. 

One wind-energy conversion system WECS is permitted on residential property.

B. 

If the property is in excess of 10 acres in size, is in active agricultural use, is to provide power or pumping of water for an agricultural use or structure, and complies with all other criteria established herein, an application may be made to the Township Zoning Officer for additional WECS (a maximum of five), depending on acreage, as follows:

Number of Acres Number of permitted WECS
10 to 25 2
Over 25 to 50 3
Over 50 to 75 4
Over 75 5
C. 

The primary purpose of the WECS is to provide power or, in the case of an active agricultural use, the pumping of water, for the principal use of the property where the WECS is located and shall not be for the generation of power for commercial purposes, although this provision shall not be interpreted to prohibit the sale of excess power generated from time to time from a WECS designed to meet the energy needs of the principal use.

D. 

WECS shall be located within the rear or side yard area.

E. 

The maximum height of the WECS shall be 36 feet. The height shall be measured from the base of the support structure to the axis of the shaft that the blades of the WECS revolve on.

F. 

The minimum distance between the ground and any part of the rotor or blade system shall be 15 feet.

G. 

All WECS structures shall be self-supporting. No guy wire supported structures shall be permitted.

H. 

The required setback from the base of the WECS support structure to any property line shall be a minimum of 100 feet unless a greater distance is need based upon ice and blade throw calculations as required in Subsections I and J hereof.

I. 

To protect the safety and property of persons, the applicant shall submit with his/her application ice throw calculations from a Pennsylvania-registered professional engineer that calculates the maximum distance that ice from the turbine blades could be thrown with the basis of the calculations and assumptions disclosed. Should the calculations project the possibility that ice may be thrown beyond the property lines of the property on which the WECS is located, or that structures exist within the limits of the projected possibility, then the WECS must be relocated to a distance greater than the calculated ice throw. This calculation shall not be used to reduce the minimum required setback established in Subsection H herein.

J. 

To protect the safety and property of persons, the applicant shall submit with his/her application blade throw calculations from a Pennsylvania-registered professional engineer that calculates the maximum distance that pieces of the turbine blades could be thrown with the basis of the calculations and assumptions disclosed. Should the calculations project the possibility that a blade may be thrown beyond the property lines of the property on which the WECS is located, or that structures exist within the limits of the projected possibility, then the WECS must be relocated to a distance greater than the calculated blade throw. This calculation shall not be used to reduce the minimum required setback established in Subsection H herein.

K. 

WECS shall have a nonreflective, painted steel finish in a neutral color in order to reduce the visual impact. No WECS shall be artificially lighted. No signs shall be mounted on the WECS or support structure.

L. 

The minimum lot size required for the erection, construction or placement of a WECS on a property shall be three acres.

§ 158-3 Commercial use.

Commercial WECS use: Commercial WECS, which are not accessory to any residential, agricultural, recreational or public use, must comply with the following requirements:

A. 

The applicant shall submit a land development plan and application with site plan information as required. In addition to the information required by the Land Development Code,

Editor's Note: See Ch. 141, Subdivision and Land Development.
the applicant shall submit the following:

(1) 

Specific information on the type, size, height, rotor material, rated power output, performance, safety, and noise characteristics of each commercial wind turbine model to be erected and the tower and electrical transmission equipment.

(2) 

Photographs or detailed drawings of each WECS model to be erected, including the tower and foundation.

(3) 

A noise report shall be submitted that provides a map of the project's noise-producing features, including the range of the noise levels expected, and the tonal and frequency characteristics expected, and the basis of those expectations. Decibel levels for the system shall not exceed the lesser of 60 decibels (dBA), as measured at the property line of the project site, and 45 decibels (dBA) at any building in residential or nonresidential use within 1,500 feet of the WECS.

(4) 

To protect the safety and property of persons, the applicant shall submit with his/her application ice throw calculations from a Pennsylvania-registered professional engineer that calculates the maximum distance that ice from the turbine blades could be thrown with the basis of the calculations and assumptions disclosed. Should the calculations project the possibility that ice may be thrown beyond the property lines of the property on which the WECS is located or that structures exist within the limits of the projected possibility, then the WECS must be relocated to a distance greater than the calculated ice throw. This calculation shall not be used to reduce the minimum required setback established in Subsection B(3) herein.

(5) 

To protect the safety and property of persons, the applicant shall submit with his/her application blade throw calculations from a Pennsylvania-registered professional engineer that calculates the maximum distance that pieces of the turbine blades could be thrown with the basis of the calculations and assumptions disclosed. Should the calculations project the possibility that a blade may be thrown beyond the property lines of the property on which the WECS is located or that structures exist within the limits of the projected possibility, then the WECS must be relocated to a distance greater than the calculated blade throw. This calculation shall not be used to reduce the minimum required setback established in Subsection B(3) herein.

(6) 

A copy of the written notification to the Federal Aviation Administration and any replies to the notification.

(7) 

Utility interconnection data and a copy of a written notification to the utility of the proposed interconnection.

(8) 

The developer/applicant shall utilize good utility practices to minimize, to the extent practicable, the impact, if any, of stray voltage and/or EF on adjacent properties. A report addressing these issues shall be submitted with the application.

(9) 

Other information as may be reasonably requested by the Zoning Officer, Township Engineer, Building Inspector, Planning Commission or Board of Commissioners.

B. 

Height and setback requirements.

(1) 

The minimum distance between the ground and any part of the rotor or blade system shall be 15 feet.

(2) 

Wind turbines shall be set back from the nearest occupied building a distance not less than the normal setback requirements for that zoning classification or 1.1 times the turbine height, whichever is greater. The setback distance shall be measured from the center of the wind turbine base to the nearest point on the foundation of the occupied building.

(3) 

Wind turbines shall be set back from the nearest adjacent property located on a nonparticipating landowner's property a distance of not less than five times the hub height, as measured from the center of the wind turbine base to the nearest point on the foundation of the occupied building.

C. 

Safety, security, landscaping, lighting regulations and inspections.

(1) 

Each WECS shall be equipped with both manual and automatic controls to limit the rotational speed of the blade within design limits of the rotor. A manual electrical and/or over speed shutdown disconnect switches shall be provided and clearly labeled on the wind turbine structure.

(2) 

All wiring between the WECS and the facility substation shall be underground.

(3) 

WECS towers shall not be climbable up to 15 feet above ground level.

(4) 

All access doors to the WECS towers and electrical equipment shall be lockable and shall remain locked at all times when operator personnel are not present.

(5) 

An eight-foot-high chain link fence with a lock gate shall be installed, maintained, and replaced if necessary around each tower or structure supporting the WECS, equipment buildings, accessory buildings and structures to prevent unauthorized access to the facilities.

(6) 

WECS shall have a nonreflective, painted steel finish in a neutral color in order to reduce the visual impact.

(7) 

No signs or other advertising material (including flags, decorative streamers, pennants, ribbons, or similar devices) shall be mounted on the WECS or support structure.

(8) 

No WECS shall be artificially lighted except as provided for and required by the FAA. When the FAA requires such lighting, no bright white lights shall be permitted at night, but only red lights as approved by the FAA. White strobes are permitted only during daylight hours.

(9) 

Landscaping shall be required to screen as much of the base of the WECS, equipment buildings, accessory buildings and structures as possible, the fence surrounding each structure supporting the WECS, equipment buildings, accessory buildings or structures and any other ground level features and in general to soften the appearance of the WECS site. As part of the conditional use approval, the Board of Commissioners of Rochester Township may permit any combination of existing vegetation, topography, walls, decorative fences or other features instead of landscaping, if they achieve the same degree of screening as the required landscaping.

(a) 

An evergreen screen shall be required to surround the site. The screen can either be a hedge (planted three feet on center maximum) or a row of evergreen trees (planted 10 feet on center maximum). The evergreen screen shall be a minimum of six feet in height at planting and shall grow to a minimum height of 15 feet at maturity.

(b) 

In addition, existing vegetation on and around the site shall be preserved to the greatest extent possible.

(10) 

Access shall be provided to the WECS, equipment buildings, accessory buildings and structures by means of a public street or easement, to a public street. The easement shall be a minimum of 30 feet on width and shall be improved to a width of 14 feet with a dust-free all-weather surface for its entire length.

(11) 

The owner/operator of the WECS shall provide an annual inspection report to Rochester Township prepared by a registered professional engineer as to the structural integrity of the WECS, supporting structures and towers.

(12) 

The facility owner and operator shall maintain a phone number and identify a responsible person for the public to contact with inquiries and complaints throughout the life of the project.

(13) 

The facility owner and operator shall make reasonable efforts to respond to the public's inquiries and complaints.

(14) 

There shall be maintained a current general liability policy covering bodily injury and property damage with limits of at least $1,000,000 per person and $5,000,000 per accident. Certificates shall be made available to Township upon request.

(15) 

The design of the wind-energy facility shall conform to applicable industry standards, including those of the American National Standards Institute. The applicant shall submit certificates of design compliance obtained by the equipment manufacturers from Underwriters Laboratories, Det Norske Veritas, Germanishcer Lloyd Wind Energies, or other similar certifying organizations.

(16) 

To the extent applicable, the wind-energy facility shall comply with the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code, 34 Pa. Code §§ 403.1 to 403.142.

(17) 

All wind-energy facilities shall be equipped with a redundant braking system. This includes both aerodynamic overspeed controls (including variable pitch, tip, and other similar systems) and mechanical brakes. Mechanical brakes shall be operated in a fail-safe mode. Stall regulation shall not be considered a sufficient braking system for overspeed protection.

(18) 

All electrical components of the wind-energy facility shall conform to relevant and applicable local, state and national codes, and relevant and applicable international standards.

D. 

Decommissioning.

(1) 

The facility owner and operator shall, at its expense, complete decommissioning of the WECS within 12 months after the end of the useful life of the facility or individual WECS. The facility or individual WECS will be presumed to be at the end of its useful life if no electricity is generated for a continuous period of 12 months.

(2) 

Decommissioning shall include removal of WECS, buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, foundations to a depth of 36 inches, and any other associated facilities.

(3) 

Disturbed earth shall be graded and reseeded, unless the landowner requests in writing that the access roads or other land surface areas not be restored.

(4) 

An independent Pennsylvania-registered professional engineer shall be retained by the facility owner or operator to estimate the total cost of decommissioning (decommissioning costs) without regard to salvage value of the equipment, and the cost of decommissioning net salvage value of the equipment (net decommissioning costs). These estimates shall be submitted to the Township after the first year of operation and every fifth year thereafter.

(5) 

The facility owner or operator shall post and maintain decommissioning funds in an amount equal to net decommissioning costs, provided that at no point shall decommissioning funds be less than 110% of decommissioning costs. The decommissioning funds shall be posted and maintained with a bonding company or federal or commonwealth-chartered lending institution chosen by the facility owner or operator and participating landowner posting the financial security, provided that the bonding company or lending institution is authorized to conduct such business within the commonwealth and is approved by the Township.

(6) 

Decommissioning funds may be in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit, corporate guarantee or other form of financial assurance as may be acceptable to the Township.

(7) 

If the facility owner or operator fails to complete decommissioning within the period prescribed by Subsection D(1), then the landowner, if different, shall have six months to complete decommissioning.

(8) 

If neither the facility owner or operator nor the landowner complete decommissioning within the periods prescribed by Subsection D(1) and (7), then the Township may declare the facility owner or operator in default and proceed to collect the financial security. The entry into and submission of evidence of a participating landowner agreement to the Township shall constitute agreement and consent of the parties to the agreement, their respective heirs, successors and assigns that the Township may take such action as necessary to implement the decommissioning plan.

(9) 

The financial security may be released when the facility owner or operator has demonstrated and the Township concurs that decommissioning has been satisfactorily completed, or upon written approval of the Township in order to implement the decommissioning plan.

§ 158-4 Exceptions.

These regulations shall not apply to WECS that meet the following conditions:

A. 

The structure is used exclusively for decorative uses and does not generate any power for residential or commercial uses.

B. 

The length of the blades of the WECS does not exceed more than three feet, and the height of the structure supporting the WECS does not exceed more than 12 feet.

§ 158-5 Violations and penalties; remedies.

A. 

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to violate or fail to comply with or take any action which is contrary to the terms of the chapter, or any permit issued under the chapter, or cause another to violate or fail to comply, or to take any action which is contrary to the terms of the chapter or any permit issued under the chapter.

B. 

If the Township of Rochester determines that a violation of the chapter or the permit has occurred, the Township of Rochester shall provide written notice to any person, firm or corporation alleged to be in violation of this chapter or permit. If the alleged violation does not pose an immediate threat to public health or safety, the Township of Rochester and the parties shall engage in good faith negotiations to resolve the alleged violation. Such negotiations shall be conducted within 30 days of the notice of violation.

C. 

If after 30 days from the date of the notice of violation the Township of Rochester determines, in its discretion, that the parties have not resolved the alleged violation, the Township of Rochester may institute civil enforcement proceedings or any other remedy at law to ensure compliance with the chapter or permit.