Town of Collins, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The provisions of the district regulations shall be subject to additional requirements, limitations and exceptions in accordance with the following supplementary regulations. Unless otherwise specified, these supplementary regulations shall apply to all districts.
A. 
Public utilities and services. The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to limit or interfere with the construction or operation for public utility purposes of water and gas pipes, electric light and power transmission and distribution lines, communication lines, sewers, and incidental appurtenances, or with any highway or railroad right-of-way existing or hereafter authorized by the Town of Collins, County of Erie, or State of New York. The above exception shall not be construed to permit yards, garages or other structures for service or storage use by said public utility except as otherwise permitted by this chapter.
B. 
Public water and sewer. If a public water supply and/or a public sewer system are available, no new dwelling or other new principal building except a farm structure shall be constructed, erected, altered, or used without connection with such public water supply and/or public sewer system.
C. 
Lot frontage on street. No dwelling shall be erected on any lot which does not have immediate frontage on an existing or platted street or highway.
D. 
Lots in two districts. Where a district boundary line divides a lot in single or joint ownership of record at the time such district line is established, the regulations for the less restricted portion of such lot shall extend not more than 25 feet into the more restricted portion, provided the less restricted portion of the lot has frontage on a street.
E. 
Temporary structures. Temporary buildings may be placed in any district for uses incidental to construction work, provided that such buildings shall be removed forthwith upon the completion or abandonment of the construction work.
F. 
Volatile materials storage. All volatile materials shall be stored and used only in containers and in the manner approved by the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
A. 
Exceptions. The height limitations of this chapter shall not apply to:
(1) 
Church spires, belfries, cupolas and domes, monuments, chimneys, smoke stacks, flagpoles, radio towers, masts and aerials, water tanks, elevator penthouses, conveyors, and scenery lofts, provided that the aggregate horizontal area of such part shall not exceed 20% of the ground floor area of the main building.
(2) 
Public or nonprofit institutional buildings in an R, R-A, or C District, provided that each required front, side and rear yard is increased one foot for each one foot of building height which exceeds the maximum height permitted in the district.
(3) 
A parapet wall extending above the height limit by not more than four feet.
B. 
Accessory buildings. Accessory buildings shall not be more than 12 feet in height.
A. 
Exceptions for lots of record. The requirements of this chapter with respect to the area and lot width shall not be construed to prevent the erection of a one-family dwelling on any lot of record at the effective date of this chapter, regardless of the area or width of such lot, provided that such use is permitted in the district in which such lot is located and provided the yard and other requirements of this chapter are complied with. Vacant lots in the same ownership having in the aggregate a continuous frontage of more than 100 feet shall not qualify for this exception.
B. 
Vision clearance at intersections. Clear vision shall be maintained in the triangular area of a corner lot formed by intersecting street lines and a line connecting them at points 30 feet distant from their intersection. In such area no tree, shrub or other planting shall be placed or permitted to remain and no structure shall hereafter be permitted which obstructs sight lines at elevations between two feet and six feet above the street grade.
C. 
New street line determines building line. If a new street line has been established in anticipation of future street widening, such new street line shall be used in determining front yard depth or side yard width, as the case may be.
D. 
Location and coverage of accessory buildings. In R or R-A Districts, and in C or M Districts where yards are required, permitted accessory buildings shall not:
(1) 
Be placed in any required side yard or front yard except as hereinafter specified in this subsection.
(2) 
Occupy more than 25% of any required rear yard.
(3) 
Be nearer than 10 feet to any dwelling unless attached thereto and considered part thereof for purposes of yard measurement.
E. 
Corner lot modification. In the case of a corner lot in R or R-A Districts, all buildings shall comply with front yard requirements on both streets, except that, if the rear lot line of such corner lot is also the rear lot line of the adjoining lot on the side street, the side street side yard shall not be less than 25 feet; provided, however, that no projections other than roof projections shall be permitted in such side yard. Where the rear of any corner lot abuts any lot facing on a street, which street is a side street in relation to such corner lot, any accessory building on the corner lot shall be located at a distance from the rear lot line of the corner lot equal to 10% of the depth of the corner lot, but in no case shall this distance be less than 10 feet nor need it be more than 25 feet.
F. 
Front yard exceptions. If, on one side of a street within a given block, there are existing buildings at the time of passage of this chapter, then the depth of the front yard will be the average depth of the front yards of the above buildings as measured from the front lot line to the main front wall of these same buildings, and as determined by the Code Enforcement Officer; provided, however, that no front yard shall be required of more than 60 feet in depth.
G. 
Projections into yards. The following structures shall be allowed within required yards:
(1) 
Wall or fence not over 3 1/2 feet high in any front yard or side-street side yard; subject to Subsection B of this section.
(2) 
Wall or fence not over seven feet high in any other yard. Corner lots are subject to Subsection E of this section.
(3) 
Retaining wall of any necessary height.
(4) 
Balconies, bay windows, chimneys and roof projections not exceeding three feet. Corner lots are subject to Subsection E of this section.
(5) 
Unenclosed porches projecting into any required side or rear yard not more than one-fourth the required width or depth of such yards. Corner lots are subject to Subsection E of this section.
(6) 
Unenclosed steps not extending above the floor level of the first story. Corner lots subject to Subsection E of this section.
At the time any main building is erected or altered, off-street parking spaces shall be provided on the same lot therewith, but not in any required front yard or required side-street yard in an R or R-A District, or in any required side yard in a C or M District. Parking spaces shall be required as follows:
A. 
One parking space for each of the following:
(1) 
Dwelling unit.
[Amended 1-5-2015 by L.L. No. 1-2015]
(2) 
Two roomers, boarders or lodgers.
(3) 
Tourist room or hotel room.
(4) 
One hundred square feet of floor area used for doctor's or dentist's office, and commercial recreation establishment not otherwise listed.
(5) 
Two hundred square feet of office floor area used for other offices, not specified above.
(6) 
Four seats in any auditorium, hall, theater, church, or other place of public assembly.
(7) 
School classroom plus one space for each six seats in the auditorium, or stadium, whichever is larger.
(8) 
Two seats in any restaurant or other eating place.
(9) 
Bed in any hospital, convalescent or nursing home.
B. 
For each roadside stand, minimum off-road parking requirements are one space for 100 square feet of retail floor space.
[Amended 1-5-2015 by L.L. No. 1-2015]
C. 
Ten parking spaces for each lane in a commercial bowling alley.
D. 
For shopping centers or malls or groups of stores over 20,000 square feet of gross floor area, parking area in square feet equal to three times the gross floor area.
E. 
For individual retail stores, parking area in square feet equal to twice the gross floor area.
F. 
Parking spaces for uses which must be approved by the Town Board shall be as required by the Town Board.
G. 
For all buildings not herein enumerated or excepted, one parking space for each 200 square feet of gross floor space shall be required.
A. 
Continuing existing use. The lawful use of an existing building on the effective date of this chapter or amendment thereto or authorized by a building permit issued prior thereto may be continued even though such use does not conform to the provisions of this chapter or any amendment thereto.
B. 
Extension or enlargement. Although a legal nonconforming use may be extended within an existing building in which it was the principal occupant, it shall not be extended to displace a conforming residential use nor shall the building or structure housing the nonconforming use be enlarged.
C. 
Change of use. A nonconforming use may be changed to a use of a higher classification or whenever a district shall hereafter be changed, a then nonconforming use in such changed district may be continued or changed to a higher classification, provided all other regulations governing the new use are complied with.
D. 
Nonconforming use abandoned. Whenever a nonconforming use has been abandoned or changed to a higher classification or a conforming user, such use shall not thereafter be changed to a nonconforming use or lower classification.
E. 
Nonconforming use discontinued. In any district, whenever a nonconforming use of land, premises, building or structure, or any part or portion thereof, has been discontinued for a period of one year, such nonconforming use shall not thereafter be reestablished, and all future use shall be in conformity with the provisions of this chapter. Such discontinuance of the active and continuous operation of such nonconforming use, or a part or portion thereof, for such period of one year, is hereby construed and considered to be an abandonment of such nonconforming use, regardless of any reservation of an intent not to abandon same or of an intent to resume active operations. If actual abandonment in fact is evidenced by the removal of buildings, structures, machinery, equipment and other evidences of such nonconforming use of the land and premises, the abandonment shall be construed and considered to be completed within a period of less than one year and all rights to reestablish or continue such nonconforming use shall thereupon terminate.
F. 
Restoration. No nonconforming building which has been damaged by fire or other causes to the extent of more than 50% of its value shall be rebuilt or repaired except in conformance with the regulations of this chapter.
G. 
District changes. Whenever the boundaries of a district shall be changed so as to transfer an area from one district to another district of a different classification, or whenever the text of this chapter shall be changed with respect to uses permitted in a district, the foregoing provisions shall also apply to any nonconforming buildings or uses therein.
H. 
Farm uses excepted. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, any farm operation and any farm building formerly conducted or used in any district hereafter classified as R-A may be reestablished, renewed or restored.
I. 
Restoration of unsafe buildings. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the restoration to a safe condition of any building, structure or portion thereof declared unsafe by the Code Enforcement Officer.
[Added 8-14-2017 by L.L. No. 2-2017]
A. 
Authority. This Zoning for Solar Energy Law is adopted pursuant to §§ 261 through 263 of the Town Law of the State of New York, which authorize the Town of Collins to adopted zoning provisions that advance and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and "to make provision for, so far as conditions permit, the accommodation of solar energy systems and equipment and access to sunlight necessary therefor."
B. 
Purpose.
(1) 
It is in the public interest to provide for and encourage renewable energy systems. The purpose of this chapter is to facilitate the development and operation of renewable energy systems based on sunlight.
(2) 
However, the Town of Collins recognizes a growing need to properly site energy systems within the Town to protect agricultural, residential, and business areas and to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of Collins.
C. 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPLICANT
Any person or entity filing an application and seeking approval under this section. When the term "applicant" or "owner" or "operator" is used in this section, said term shall include any person acting as an applicant, owner, or operator.
BUILDING-INTIGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC (BIPV)
A combination of photovoltaic building components integrated into any building envelope system, such as vertical facades, including glass and other facade material, semitransparent skylight systems, roofing materials, and shading over windows.
GROUND-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
A solar energy system that is anchored to the ground and attached to a pole or similar mounting system, detached from any other structure for the primary purpose of producing electricity for on-site consumption.
LARGE- OR UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
Solar energy systems located on land primarily to convert solar energy into electricity for off-site energy consumption. The intent of this energy system is to supple energy into a utility grid for sale to the general public.
ROOF-MOUNTED SYSTEM
A solar panel system located on the roof of any legally permitted building or structure for the purpose of producing electricity for on-site or off-site consumption.
SOLAR ENERGY EQUIPMENT
Electrical energy storage devices, material, hardware, inverters, or other electrical equipment and conduit of photovoltaic devices associated with the production of electrical energy.
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
An electrical generating system composed of a combination of both solar panels and solar energy equipment.
SOLAR PANEL
A photovoltaic device capable of collecting and converting solar energy into electrical energy.
D. 
Applicability. The requirements of this section shall apply to all solar energy systems installed or modified after the effective date of this section, excluding general maintenance and repair and building-integrated photovoltaic systems.
E. 
Districts where permitted.
(1) 
Rooftop-mounted solar energy systems are permitted in all zoning districts in the Town of Collins.
(2) 
Ground-mounted systems are permitted in all zoning districts as accessory structures.
(3) 
Large-scale or utility-scale systems are permitted only in the Residential-Agricultural (RA) District.
F. 
General regulations. The placement, construction, and major modification of all solar energy systems within the boundaries of the Town of Collins shall be permitted only as follows:
(1) 
Rooftop-mounted solar energy systems upon issuance of a building permit based on application information supplied by the Town's Code Enforcement Officer.
(2) 
Ground-mounted solar energy systems upon issuance of a building permit based on application information supplied by the Town's Code Enforcement Officer.
(3) 
Large- or utility-scale solar energy systems will require a special use permit in addition to the requirements set forth in this section.
(4) 
All solar energy systems shall adhere to all applicable federal, state, county, and Town of Collins laws, regulations, and building, plumbing, electrical, and fire codes.
(5) 
No element of the solar energy system shall reflect sunlight as glare or glint onto a neighboring property, public right-of-way, or aircraft flight path.
G. 
Roof-mounted solar energy systems.
(1) 
Height. Solar energy systems shall not exceed the maximum height restrictions of the zoning district within which they are located and are provided the same height exemptions granted to building-mounted mechanical devices or equipment.
(2) 
Aesthetics. Roof-mounted solar energy system installations shall incorporate, when feasible, the following design requirements:
(a) 
Panels facing the front yard must be mounted at the same angle as the roof's surface with a maximum distance of 18 inches between the roof and highest edge of the system.
H. 
Ground-mounted solar energy systems. Ground-mounted solar energy systems shallbe subject to the following requirements:
(1) 
Ground-mounted solar energy systems that use the electricity primarily on site are permitted as accessory structures in the Town of Collins.
(2) 
Location shall be no closer than twice the standard setback requirements for an accessory structure in which the system is located.
(3) 
Location of the system shall be only in the side or rear yard.
(4) 
Orientation of the said solar energy system shall not be pointed at any adjoining residential dwelling.
(5) 
Systems are limited to 50% for lot coverage. The surface of ground-mounted solar panels shall be included in lot coverage and impervious surface calculations.
I. 
Large- or utility-scale solar energy systems. Large- or utility-scale solar energy systems are permitted through the issuance of a special use permit within the Residential Agricultural (RA) District in the Town of Collins in addition to the requirements set forth in this section.
(1) 
Large- or utility-scale systems shall adhere to the height and setback requirements of the underlying zoning district. Additional restrictions may be imposed during the special use permit process.
(2) 
Large-scale systems shall be located only on lots with a minimum size of 10 acres.
(3) 
Lot coverage. Systems are limited to 50% for lot coverage. The surface of ground-mounted solar panels shall be included in lot coverage and impervious surface calculations.
(4) 
All large-size solar energy systems shall be enclosed by fencing to prevent unauthorized access. Warning signs with the owner's contact information shall be placed on the entrance and the perimeter of the fencing. The height and type of fencing shall be determined by the special use permit process. The special use permit shall also determine the size and location of perimeter signage.
(5) 
On-site electrical interconnection lines and distribution lines shall be placed underground, unless otherwise required by the utility.
(6) 
The removal of existing vegetation is limited to the extent necessary for the construction and maintenance of the solar installation.
J. 
Special use permit requirements.
(1) 
The applicant for a special use permit must provide the following information uriless waived by the approving board:
(a) 
Verification of utility notification. Foreseeable infrastructure upgrades shall be documented and submitted. Off-grid systems are exempt from this requirement.
(b) 
Name and address and contact information of the applicant, property owner(s), and agent submitting the proposed project.
(c) 
If the property of the proposed project is to be leased, legal consent among all parties, specifying the use(s) of the land for the duration of the project, including easements and other agreements, shall be submitted.
(d) 
Application to the Town of Collins Planning Board must be made and site plan approval granted from that Board.
(e) 
The equipment specification sheets shall be documented and submitted for all photovoltaic panels, significant components, mounting systems, and inverters that are to be installed.
(f) 
A property operation and maintenance plan is required, describing continuing photovoltaic maintenance and property upkeep, including mowing, trimming, etc.
(g) 
The Town of Collins may impose conditions on its approval of any special use permit under this section in order to enforce the standards referred to in this section or in order to discharge its obligations under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).[1]
[1]
Editor’s Note: See Environmental Conservation Law § 8-0101 et seq.
(h) 
To insure proper removal of large-scale systems, a decommissioning plan shall be required. The plan is to include removal of all infrastructures and the remediation of soil and vegetation back to its original state prior to construction, unless otherwise permitted. A cost estimate detailing the projected cost of executing the decommissioning plan shall be prepared by a professional engineer or licensed contractor. Inflation shall be taken into account in the cost estimates.
(2) 
Further, the Collins Town Board reserves the right to submit all plans, drawings, documents, etc., to an engineering firm of its choosing for review, with the costs of said review to be the respbnsibility of the applicant or his/her representative(s).
K. 
Procedures and fees.
(1) 
Revocation. If the applicant violates any of the conditions of its special use permit or building permit or site plan approval or violates any other local, state or federal laws, rules or regulations, this shall be grounds for revocation of the special use permit or site plan approval. Revocation may occur after the applicant is notified, in writing, of the violations.
(2) 
Time limit on completion. Upon receipt of any required approval by the Collins Town Board, the applicant shall have six months to apply for a building permit. After issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall have six months to begin the project and 12 months to complete the project. Upon receipt of any required approval by the Collins Town Board, the applicant shall have 12 months to begin the project before those approvals lapse. Prior to the lapse of any approvals, the applicant may, for just cause, apply by written request to the Town Board for an extension to this time line.
(3) 
Utility-scale solar energy system. An applicant shall pay an initial application fee of such amount as the Town Board may, from time to time, determine by resolution, upon filing its special use permit and site plan application to cover the cost of processing ahd reviewing the application.
(a) 
Fee for issuance ofa building permit: In addition to any special use permit application fee, an applicant shall pay a building permit fee for utility-scale solar energy systems of such amount as the Town board may, from time to time, determine by resolution.
L. 
Abandonment and decommissioning.
(1) 
Solar energy systems are considered abandoned after two years without electrical generation and must be removed from the property. Applications for extensions are reviewed by the Planning Board for a period of one year.
(2) 
The Collins Town Board reserves the right to require a form of surety through escrow or bond, or the equivalency of, prior to the commencement of construction to cover the cost of decommissioning the site.
(3) 
If the utility-scale solar energy system is not decommissioned after being considered abandoned, the Town of Collins may remove the system, restore the property, and impose a lien on the property to cover all the costs.
M. 
Enforcement. Any violation of this Solar Energy Law shall be subject to the same civil and criminal penalties provided for in the zoning regulations of theTown of Collins.
N. 
Severability. The invalidity or unenforceability of any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause, provision or phrase of the aforementioned section as declared by the valid judgment of any court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause, provision or phrase, which shall remain in force and effect.