Town of Clarence, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Clarence 6-14-2017 by L.L. No. 4-2017.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 229.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law supersedes former Ch. 173, Satellite Antennas and Towers, adopted 2-27-1997 by L.L. No. 1-1997.

§ 173-1 Intent.

The intent of this chapter is to promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Town of Clarence by regulating the installation of antennas, parabolic dishes, wind energy conversion systems, personal communication services towers, cellular telephone facilities and other wireless telecommunication facilities.

§ 173-2 Title.

This chapter shall hereafter be known as "Satellite Antennas, Telecommunication Towers and Wind Energy Conversion Systems."

§ 173-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ACCESSORY STRUCTURE
An accessory facility or structure serving or being used in conjunction with a communication tower, wind energy conversion system and/or similar facility and located on the same lot as the communication tower or wind energy conversion system. Examples of such structures include but are not limited to utility or transmission equipment storage sheds or cabinets.
AGRICULTURAL OR FARM OPERATION
In compliance with Agriculture and Markets Law (AML) § 305-a, Subdivision 11, as well as eligible for an agricultural property tax assessment or exemption.
AMATEUR COMMUNICATIONS
The use of radio and television antennas/antenna systems for home, recreational, hobby or noncommercial use by a person holding a valid license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, where applicable.
LOT
A parcel of land used or occupied or capable of being used or occupied by a building, structure or use and the accessory buildings, structures or uses customarily incidental to it, including such yards as are required by Chapter 229, Zoning.
OVERSPEED CONTROL
A mechanism used to limit the speed of blade rotation to below the design limits of the WECS. Also called a "limiter" or "governor."
TELECOMMUNICATION FACILITY
Any commercial equipment used in connection with the provision of wireless communication services, including but not limited to cellular telephone services and personal communication services, which are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission in accordance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as it may hereinafter be amended. A telecommunication facility shall include antenna(s), accessory telecommunications structures and supporting masts, support towers or monopoles.
TOWER/ANTENNA
Includes any communications tower, pole or other structure, whether attached to a building, guyed or freestanding, designed to be used for the support of any device for the transmission and/or reception of communications signals, including but not limited to broadcast, shortwave, citizens band, AM FM, television, microwave, cellular, digital, PCS.
WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM (WECS)
A machine that converts the kinetic energy of the wind into a usable form (commonly known as a "wind turbine" or "windmill"). The WECS includes all parts of the system, including the tower, blades and rotor assemblies, gearbox, generator and the transmission equipment; the turbine or windmill may be on a horizontal or vertical axis.

§ 173-4 Dimensional restrictions.

The provisions of this section shall apply to all structures in all zoning districts as established by Chapter 229, Zoning.
A. 
Size of freestanding antenna dishes. No satellite or parabolic dish-type antenna erected or maintained within the Town of Clarence shall exceed 12 feet in any dimension.
B. 
Size of roof-mounted or attached antenna dishes. No satellite or parabolic dish-type roof-mounted or attached antenna erected or maintained within the Town of Clarence shall exceed three feet in any dimension.
C. 
Height of telecommunication towers, noncommercial. Amateur communication towers shall not exceed 60 feet in height as measured from the average ground surface surrounding the site of the tower. Measurements of height shall include any extensions above the tower and supporting bases below the tower.
D. 
Height of telecommunication towers, commercial. Commercial cellular, PCS and other communication towers shall not exceed 150 feet in height as measured from the average ground surface immediately surrounding the site of the tower in the Industrial and Research-Development Zoning Districts as defined in Chapter 229, Zoning, or on any municipal or government-owned property. Such towers shall not exceed 100 feet in height in all other (nonindustrial/non-research-development) zones as defined in Chapter 229, Zoning. Measurements of height shall include any extensions or other devices above the tower.
E. 
See § 173-8 for dimensional restrictions pertaining to WECS.

§ 173-5 Location restrictions and general requirements.

A. 
Dish-type, parabolic, satellite antennas, amateur communication antennas.
(1) 
No more than one antenna shall be located on any dwelling unit.
(2) 
No freestanding antenna shall be constructed, erected or maintained except as an accessory structure to an existing one-family dwelling on the same lot.
(3) 
When roof-mounted, a dish-type antenna shall be located on that portion of the roof sloping away from the front of the lot.
(4) 
All freestanding antennas shall be located in the rear yard at least 10 feet from the side and rear lot line. When measuring side and rear setbacks, all cables, guy wires or other supports shall constitute a part of the antenna.
(5) 
When not roof-mounted, a dish-type antenna shall be screened from adjoining lots.
B. 
Towers, noncommercial.
(1) 
No more than one tower shall be located on any lot.
(2) 
All towers shall be located in the rear yard at ground level.
(3) 
No tower shall be constructed, erected or maintained except as an accessory structure to an existing one-family dwelling on the same lot.
(4) 
No tower shall be located on any lot unless so as to have a rear and side lot setback equal to the height of the tower. Measurements of side and rear lot line setback shall be taken at the base of the tower structure at ground level.
(5) 
Towers which will be used for energy conversion shall be located on the lot so as to produce a level of noise at any lot line no greater than the ambient nighttime level.
C. 
Telecommunication towers, commercial.
(1) 
The Town of Clarence recognizes the increased demand for wireless communication transmitting facilities and the need for the services they provide. Often these facilities require the construction of a telecommunication tower and/or similar facilities. The intent of this section of the Satellite Antenna and Tower Law is to regulate telecommunication towers/antennas in accordance with the guidelines of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 or as amended by:
(a) 
Accommodating the need for telecommunication towers/antennas while regulating their location and number in the community.
(b) 
Minimizing adverse visual impacts of these towers/antennas through proper design, siting and screening.
(c) 
Preserving and enhancing the positive aesthetic qualities of the built and natural environment in the Town of Clarence.
(d) 
Avoiding potential damage to adjacent properties from tower failure, falling ice, etc., through engineering and proper siting.
(e) 
Requiring the joint use of towers when available and encouraging the placement of antennas on existing structures to reduce the number of such structures in the future.
(2) 
Zoning/permitting requirements.
(a) 
Colocated/existing structure antennas. An antenna that is to be attached to an existing communication tower, smokestack, water tower or other tall structure is permitted. The colocated antenna is permitted as of right upon issuance of a building permit. The building permit application will include a structural analysis/report verifying the ability of the structure to handle the colocated antenna.
(b) 
Non-colocated/new tower antennas. An antenna that will not be mounted on an existing structure as defined above and requires the construction of a tower is permitted as follows:
[1] 
Municipal/government-owned property, research-development and industrially zoned property: site plan review approval by the Town Planning Board and permit approval by the Town Board per permit process for permitted uses.
[2] 
Commercial, major arterial, neighborhood business and restricted business zoned property: site plan review approval by the Town Planning Board and special exception use permit approval by the Town Board per § 30-71 of Chapter 30 of the Code of the Town of Clarence.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See now Ch. 229, Zoning.
[3] 
Residential and agriculture zoned properties: site plan review approval by the Town Planning Board and special exception use permit approval by the Town Board per § 30-71 of Chapter 30 of the Code of the Town of Clarence.[2] Such applications shall be classified as a Type I action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
[2]
Editor's Note: See now Ch. 229, Zoning.
(3) 
All telecommunication towers in all zoning districts, including towers on municipal/government-owned lands, must provide and/or meet the following requirements:
(a) 
Setbacks equal to the height of the tower to all lot lines.
(b) 
An agreement by the applicant, in writing, to remove the telecommunication facility if such facility becomes technically obsolete or ceases to be used for its originally intended purpose. A demolition bond for the purposes of removing the telecommunication facility shall remain in force for the life of the tower in an amount approved by the Town Board but not less than $20,000.
(c) 
Traffic, access and safety features:
[1] 
A road turnaround and one parking space to assure adequate emergency and service access. Maximum use of existing roads, public or private, shall be made. The use of public roadways or road rights-of-way for the siting of a tower's accessory structures is prohibited.
[2] 
All towers and guy anchors, if applicable, shall be enclosed by a fence not less than eight feet in height or otherwise sufficiently protected from trespassing or vandalism.
(d) 
Screening, as approved by the Town Landscape Review Committee.
(e) 
An inspection every two years by a licensed professional engineer and a copy of the inspection report shall be submitted to the Town Engineer. Any work or repair of the tower shall comply with all applicable code requirements, and a permit shall be obtained to conduct such work.
(f) 
No lighting unless otherwise required by the Federal Aviation Administration or federal, state or local authority.
(g) 
No signs or advertising devices.
(h) 
Free access shall be coordinated and provided on the proposed tower for local school, government, emergency and amateur communication antennas.
D. 
See § 173-8 for location restrictions and general requirements and dimensional restrictions pertaining to WECS.

§ 173-6 Permit application.

A. 
All applicants for permits to construct and place satellite or communication antennas, dishes and/or towers within the Town of Clarence shall make written application therefor to the Town on forms available in the Planning and Zoning Office of the Town.
B. 
Applications for telecommunication towers shall contain specific site data placed on a map, acceptable in form and content to the Town, which shall be prepared to scale and sufficient detail and accuracy so as to accurately depict the placement of all component parts of the antenna or tower, including guy wires or enclosures, in relation to:
(1) 
The location of property lines and permanent easements.
(2) 
The location of all structures on the site and all structures on any adjacent property within 10 feet of the property lines.
(3) 
The location of all utility poles, above and below ground utility lines, trees or other natural or artificial structures.
(4) 
The location, nature and extent of any proposed fencing, buffering, plantings or other screening measures, if any proposed.
(5) 
The names of adjacent landowners.
(6) 
All information prepared by the manufacturer of the antenna or tower, including but not limited to the following:
(a) 
The make and model.
(b) 
The manufacturer's suggested installation instructions.
(c) 
The manufacturer's suggested maintenance and/or inspection procedures.
(d) 
The color or colors of the tower.
(e) 
The type of tower (monopole, guyed, freestanding or other).
C. 
See § 173-8 for permit application relating to WECS.

§ 173-7 Special exception use requirements.

A. 
No special exception use permit or renewal thereof or modification of the provisions of this chapter relating to a cellular or PCS tower shall be authorized by the Town Board unless, in addition to the other requirements specified in this chapter and Chapter 229, Zoning, it finds that such cellular or PCS tower:
(1) 
Is necessary to meet current or expected demands for wireless communication service.
(2) 
Conforms with all applicable regulations promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission.
(3) 
Is located so as to minimize its visibility from surrounding public streets and adjacent properties.
(4) 
Is designed and constructed in a manner which minimizes its visual impact.
(5) 
Is the most appropriate site within the immediate area for the location of the cellular or PCS tower. The applicant shall submit a study as part of the special exception use permit application comparing all potential host sites within an approximate one-half-mile radius of the subject site. This study should include a description of the surrounding sites and a discussion of the ability or inability to host a cellular or PCS tower facility. Reasons for excluding a site from consideration may include but are not limited to:
(a) 
Unwillingness of the owner to entertain a cellular or PCS tower facility proposal.
(b) 
Topographic limitations of the site.
(c) 
Adjacent impediments that would obstruct adequate cellular or PCS transmissions.
(d) 
Physical site constraints that would preclude the construction of a cellular or PCS facility.
(e) 
Technical limitations of the cellular or PCS systems.
B. 
All special exception use permits and renewals shall include "before" and "after" propagation studies prepared by a qualified radio frequency engineer demonstrating existing signal coverage contrasted with the proposed signal coverage resulting from the proposed telecommunication facility.
C. 
All special exception use permits and renewals shall include a search ring prepared by a qualified radio frequency engineer and overlaid on an appropriate background map demonstrating the area within which the telecommunication facility needs to be located in order to provide proper signal strength and coverage to the target cell. The applicant must be prepared to explain why it selected the proposed site, discuss the availability (or lack of availability) of a suitable structure within the search ring which would have allowed for colocated antenna(s) and to what extent the applicant explored locating the proposed tower in a more intensive use district. Correspondence with other telecommunication companies concerning colocation is required.
D. 
The shared use of existing towers and antenna facilities shall be preferred to the construction of new such facilities. Any application for a special exception use permit or renewal thereof or modification of the provisions of this chapter shall include proof that reasonable efforts have been made to colocate with an existing cellular or PCS facility, including an adequate inventory report specifying existing towers and antenna sites within a reasonable distance from the proposed site and outlining opportunities for shared use as an alternative to the proposed use. The applicant must demonstrate to the reasonable satisfaction of the Town Board that the proposed tower or antenna cannot be accommodated on an existing approved tower or facility due to one or more of the following reasons:
(1) 
Unwillingness of the owner to entertain a cellular or PCS facility proposal.
(2) 
The planned equipment would exceed the structural capacity of existing and approved towers and facilities.
(3) 
The planned equipment would cause radio frequency interference with other existing or planned equipment which cannot be reasonably prevented.
(4) 
Existing or approved towers or facilities do not have space on which proposed equipment can be placed so it can function effectively and reasonably.
(5) 
Other reasons make it impracticable to place the equipment proposed by the applicant on existing and approved towers or facilities.
(6) 
The proposed colocation of an existing tower or antenna site would be, by virtue of the requirements in this section, considered a prohibited use.

§ 173-8 Wind energy conversion systems (WECS) types, requirements and provisions.

A. 
Two types of WECS are addressed herein:
(1) 
Type 1: A commercial unit designed for the generation of power supplied to the local grid.
(2) 
Type 2: A unit designed to supply power primarily to a single residence or property owner and can supply power to the grid on a limited basis. WECS associated with agricultural or farm operations and supplying a portion of a farm's electrical needs (not exceeding 110% of the farm's anticipated demand) shall be considered a Type 2 WECS.
B. 
Zoning district requirements.
(1) 
A Type 1 WECS shall not be permitted.
(2) 
A Type 2 WECS shall be permitted by the following standards:
(a) 
Residential Single-Family Zone and Traditional Neighborhood District under five acres shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 60 feet.
(b) 
Residential Single-Family Zone and Traditional Neighborhood District over five acres shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 80 feet.
(c) 
Agricultural Rural Residential and Agricultural Flood Zone Zones under five acres shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 100 feet.
(d) 
Agricultural Rural Residential and Agricultural Flood Zone Zones between five to 10 acres shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 120 feet.
(e) 
Agricultural Rural Residential and Agricultural Flood Zone Zones over 10 acres shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 140 feet.
(f) 
Industrial Zone shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 140 feet.
(g) 
Agricultural operations within an agricultural district and agricultural zone shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 140 feet.
(h) 
Commercial/Restricted Business and Community Facility Zones shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 60 feet.
(i) 
Municipal/government-owned property shall have a maximum allowable tower height of 140 feet.
(j) 
Blade tip may not exceed 15 feet above maximum allowable tower height as listed above, from Subsection B(2)(a) to (h).
(k) 
Tower height shall be measured from the average grade immediately surrounding the tower site.
(l) 
Overall height shall be defined as the blade length plus the tower height.
C. 
General provisions. Approval of all site plans or special use permits for the installation of a WECS shall comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
No more than a single WECS shall be permitted on a parcel.
(2) 
Except for agricultural or farm operations, the WECS must be within the parcel on which the power is to be utilized.
(3) 
Rotor safety. Each WECS shall be equipped with both manual and automatic controls to limit the rotational speed of the blade below the design limits of the rotor. The application must include a statement by a qualified New York State licensed professional engineer(s) certifying that the rotor and overspeed controls have been designed and fabricated for the proposed use in accordance with good engineering practices. The engineer(s) should also certify the structural compatibility of towers with available rotors. This certification would normally be supplied by the manufacturer and include the distance and trajectory of the thrown blade from an exploding turbine or propeller according to the Loss of Blade Theory.
(4) 
Guy wires. Anchor points for guy wires for the WECS tower shall be located within property lines and not on or across any aboveground electrical transmission or distribution line. Guy wires are strongly discouraged; however, if necessary, the point of ground attachment for the guy wires shall be enclosed by a fence eight feet high.
(5) 
Tower access. Towers should have either:
(a) 
Tower-climbing apparatus located no closer than 12 feet to the ground;
(b) 
A locked anticlimb device installed on the tower; or
(c) 
The tower shall be completely enclosed by a locked, protective fence of eight feet high.
(6) 
Noise. The noise of the WECS shall not exceed a maximum of 50 dB(A), as measured at the boundaries of all the closest parcels that are owned by on-site owners and abut the site parcels.
(7) 
Electromagnetic interference. The WECS shall be operated such that no disruptive electromagnetic interference is caused. If it has been demonstrated to the Town Code Enforcement Officer that a wind energy conversion system is causing harmful interference, the operator shall promptly mitigate the harmful interference.
(8) 
Signs. Signs shall be posted at the base of the tower warning of electrical shock or high voltage. Signs shall be visible from all quadrants.
(9) 
Setbacks. WECS shall be set back from any structure or aboveground utility line a distance of 1.5 times its overall height or a minimum of 90 feet, whichever is greater. WECS shall be set back from any property line or right-of-way a distance of two times or greater its overall height. The WECS shall also not be placed in the front yard of any existing structure.
(10) 
Abatement. If a WECS poses a potential safety hazard, the owner or operator shall take immediate action to remedy the situation. The Town of Clarence shall have the authority to cause the abatement of any hazardous situation. If the Town of Clarence determines that the WECS poses a safety hazard, a notice of violation shall be issued and the WECS shall be made nonoperational until such hazard has been remedied to the satisfaction of the Town of Clarence. If the WECS has been nonoperational or abandoned for a period of one year, the system shall be removed within 45 days of written notice to the owner or operator of the system.
(11) 
Maintenance and repair records. Records of inspections, reports and maintenance activities shall be submitted to the Town of Clarence Building and Engineering Department within 10 days of receipt by owner and/or lessee.
(12) 
Lighting of tower. Lighting of the tower for aircraft and helicopters will conform to FAA standards for wattage and color, when required. Additional lighting may also be required at the request of the Town Board.
(13) 
Decommissioning and restoration. The applicant shall include the following information regarding decommissioning of the project and restoring the site:
(a) 
The anticipated life of the project;
(b) 
The estimated decommissioning costs in current dollars;
(c) 
The method and schedule for updating the costs of decommissioning and restoration;
(d) 
A method of ensuring that funds will be available for decommissioning and restoration;
(e) 
The anticipated manner in which the project will be decommissioned and the site restored; and
(f) 
Such other and reasonable requirements as the Town of Clarence shall require.
(14) 
Accessory structure cabling. All interconnecting cables between the WECS and accessory or servicing structures shall be underground.
(15) 
Compliance with Building Code.
(a) 
Building permit applications shall be accompanied by standard drawings of structural components of the WECS, including support structures, tower, base and footings. Drawings and any necessary calculations shall be certified, in writing, by a New York State registered professional engineer that the system complies with the current building code. This certification would normally be supplied by the manufacturer.
(b) 
Where the structural components or installation vary from the standard design or specification, the proposed modifications shall be certified by a New York State registered professional engineer for compliance with the seismic and structural design provisions of the building code.
(16) 
Compliance with Electrical Code.
(a) 
Building permit applications shall be accompanied by a line drawing identifying the electrical components of the WECS to be installed in sufficient detail to allow for a determination that the manner of installation conforms to the Electrical Code. The application shall include a statement from a New York State registered professional engineer indicating that the electrical system conforms to good engineering practices and complies with the Electrical Code. This certification would normally be supplied by the manufacturer. All equipment and materials shall be used or installed in accordance with such drawings and diagrams.
(b) 
Where the electrical components of an installation vary from the standard design or specifications, the proposed modifications shall be reviewed and certified by a New York State registered professional engineer for compliance with the requirements of the Electrical Code and good engineering practices.
(c) 
Application requirements. All site plan applications for a WECS shall be submitted to the Office of Planning and Zoning, to include the following, to include three copies:
[1] 
Stamped engineered drawings for tower and foundation.
[2] 
Site plan, elevations and property survey.
[3] 
Stamped engineered drawings for tower and foundation.
[4] 
Height of the tower conforms to § 173-8(B)(2).
[5] 
Setbacks are shown to conform to § 173-8(C)(9).
[6] 
Aerial site plan showing relevant utility poles and lines, trees and structures, names of all adjacent property owners.
[7] 
Manufacturer information provided for tower and turbine with visuals, including noise decibels.
[8] 
A maintenance and removal plan made in writing to the Town of Clarence to include an agreement by the applicant and/or owner, in writing, to remove the all components of the WECS, including tower, if such facility becomes nonfunctional or ceases to be used for its originally intended purpose, as determined by the Town of Clarence. The maintenance and removal plan shall remain in force for the life of the WECS. An acceptable bond and/or surety for the purposes of removing the WECS shall be purchased and remain in force for the life of the WECS.

§ 173-9 Fees.

A fee as established by the Town Board shall be paid with the application for every proposed use under this chapter.

§ 173-10 Variances.

The Town of Clarence Zoning Board of Appeals may, in appropriate cases and after public notice and hearing and subject to the appropriate safeguards, vary or modify the application of this chapter in harmony with its general purpose and intent.

§ 173-11 Penalties for offenses.

Failure to obtain a permit for construction of a satellite antenna or tower and to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed a violation and the violator shall be liable to a fine of not more than $250 nor less than $100 or imprisonment for not more than 15 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.