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 3-22-2017 by L.L. No. 3-2017. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building code administration — See Ch. 67.
Electrical standards — See Ch. 89.
Zoning — See Ch. 229.

§ 184-1 Purpose.

It is the purpose of this regulation to promote the safe and effective use of installed solar energy systems, while endeavoring to protect the health, safety and welfare within Town of Clarence.

§ 184-2 Objectives.

This chapter seeks to:
A. 
Provide property owners and business owners/operators with guidance and flexibility in satisfying their energy needs.
B. 
Provide an opportunity for alternative sources of energy within the Town of Clarence and promote clean energy.
C. 
Integrate solar energy systems seamlessly into the Town of Clarence's neighborhoods and landscapes without diminishing quality of life in those neighborhoods.

§ 184-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AGRICULTURAL OPERATION (CUSTOMARY)
The raising or production for compensation of crops, livestock, poultry, dairy products, fish or other wildlife, trees and other similar pursuits. Tree growing and harvesting, animal husbandry, horticulture operations, forestry operations and the sale, at wholesale or retail, of farm products upon the premises where the same are grown or produced shall be considered agriculture operations.
ARRAY
Any number of electrically connected photovoltaic (PV) modules providing a single electrical output.
CELL
The smallest basic solar electric device which generates electricity when exposed to light.
GROUND-MOUNTED SYSTEM
A solar photovoltaic system mounted on a structure, pole or series of poles constructed specifically to support the photovoltaic system and not attached to any other structure.
MODULE
A module is the smallest protected assembly of interconnected PV cells.
PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV)
A semiconductor-based device that converts light directly into electricity.
BUILDING-MOUNTED SYSTEM
A solar power system in which solar panels are mounted on top of a structure.
GLARE
To shine with a harsh, bright light.
GLINT
To shine in small bright flashes.
SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM (SPS)
A solar collection system consisting of one or more building- and/or ground-mounted solar photovoltaic cells, modules, panels or arrays and solar-related equipment that rely upon solar radiation as an energy source for collection of solar energy, conversion of solar energy to electricity, inversion of DC electricity to AC electricity and storage/distribution of electricity generated by the system.
TOWN OF CLARENCE
Incorporated municipality within the State of New York.
TRACKING SYSTEM
A number of photovoltaic modules mounted such that they track the movement of the sun across the sky to maximize energy production, either with a single-axis or dual-axis mechanism.
QUALIFIED SOLAR INSTALLER
A person who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of solar electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training on the hazards involved. Persons who are on the list of eligible photovoltaic installers maintained by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), or who are certified as a solar installer by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), shall be deemed to be qualified solar installers for the purposes of this definition. Persons who are not on NYSERDA's list of eligible installers or NABCEP's list of certified installers may be deemed to be qualified solar installers if the Town of Clarence determines such persons have had adequate training to determine the degree and extent of the hazard and the personal protective equipment and job planning necessary to perform the installation safely. Such training shall include the proper use of special precautionary techniques and personal protective equipment, as well as the skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed energized parts from other parts of electrical equipment and to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts.

§ 184-4 Building-mounted system.

A building permit shall be required for installation of all building-mounted SPS systems and shall comply with any and all relevant Town, state and national codes.

§ 184-5 Ground-mounted system applicability.

A. 
Two types of SPSs are addressed herein:
(1) 
Type 1: A commercial system designed for the generation of power supplied to the local grid;
(2) 
Type 2: A system designed to supply power, no more than 110% of the anticipated on-site demand, to a single residence or property owner while generating excess power to the grid on a limited and secondary basis.
B. 
SPSs associated with agricultural operations and supplying a portion of the operation's electrical needs (not exceeding 110% of the operation's anticipated demand) shall be considered a Type 2 SPS.

§ 184-6 Permitted locations.

A. 
A Type 1 SPS shall only be permitted in the Industrial Business Park Zone.
B. 
A Type 2 SPS shall be permitted within all zoning districts, as follows:
(1) 
Residential Single-Family Zoning District under five acres shall not be permitted.
(2) 
Residential Single-Family Zoning District five acres or above shall be permitted.
(3) 
Agricultural Rural Residential and Agricultural Flood Zone Zoning Districts under five acres shall not be permitted.
(4) 
Agricultural Rural Residential and Agricultural Flood Zone Zoning Districts five acres or above shall be permitted.
(5) 
Industrial Zoning District shall be permitted.
(6) 
Commercial/Restricted Business/TND/CF Zoning Districts under five acres shall not be permitted.
(7) 
Commercial/Restricted Business/TND/CF Zoning Districts five acres or above shall be permitted.
(8) 
Agricultural operations within an agricultural district and agricultural zoning district shall be permitted.

§ 184-7 General provisions.

Site plan approval and building permit shall be required for installation of all ground-mounted SPS systems and shall comply with any and all relevant Town, state and national codes. Except for parcels engaged in agricultural operations, the SPS will be considered an accessory use/structure and will require a principal use/structure on the property; however, the location of the SPS shall meet all applicable setback requirements as identified for a principal use/structure in the zoning district in which it is located.

§ 184-8 Abatement.

A. 
If an SPS poses a safety hazard, as determined by a Clarence Building Code Enforcement Officer, the owner or operator shall take immediate action to remedy the hazard. The Building Code Enforcement Officer shall have the authority to cause the abatement of any hazardous situation.
B. 
If the Town of Clarence determines that the SPS poses a safety hazard, a notice of violation shall be issued and the SPS shall be made nonoperational until such hazard has been remedied to the satisfaction of the Town of Clarence.
C. 
If the SPS has been nonoperational or abandoned for a period of one year or more, the system shall be removed within 45 days of written notice from the Town of Clarence to the property owner or operator of the system.

§ 184-9 Maintenance and repair records.

Records of inspections, reports and maintenance activities shall be provided to the Town of Clarence Building Department within 10 days of written request by the Town of Clarence.

§ 184-10 Decommissioning and restoration.

The applicant shall provide the following information regarding decommissioning of the SPS and restoring the site upon application:
A. 
The anticipated life of the SPS;
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 SPS will be decommissioned and the site restored; and
F. 
Such other and reasonable requirements as the Town of Clarence shall require.

§ 184-11 Accessory structure cabling.

All interconnecting cables between the SPS and accessory or servicing structures shall be installed underground or within the structure they are mounted upon.

§ 184-12 Compliance with building code.

A. 
Building permit applications shall be accompanied by standard drawings of structural components of the SPS, including support structures, base and footings. Drawings shall be stamped and any necessary calculations shall be certified, in writing, by a New York State licensed professional engineer or architect, that the system complies with the current New York State Building Code.
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 licensed professional engineer for compliance with the seismic and structural design provisions of the New York State Building Code.

§ 184-13 Compliance with electrical code.

A. 
Building permit applications shall be accompanied by a line drawing identifying the electrical components of the SPS to be installed in sufficient detail to allow for a determination that the manner of installation conforms to the electrical code.
B. 
The application shall include a statement from a New York State licensed professional engineer or architect indicating that the electrical system conforms to sound engineering practices and complies with the National Electrical Code (NEC). 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.
C. 
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 licensed professional engineer for compliance with the requirements of the NEC and sound engineering practices.

§ 184-14 Application requirements.

All site plan applications for an SPS shall be submitted to the office of Planning and Zoning, to include three copies of the following:
A. 
Site plan, elevations and property survey.
B. 
Engineered drawings certified by a licensed professional engineer or architect.
C. 
Aerial site plan showing relevant utility poles and lines, trees and structures, names of all adjacent property owners.
D. 
Manufacturer information.
E. 
Completed building permit application.
F. 
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 all components of the SPS 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 SPS.
G. 
An acceptable bond and/or surety for the purposes of removing the SPS shall be purchased and remain in force for the life of the SPS (will be cross referenced to the decommissioning and restoration section).[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See § 184-10, Decommissioning and restoration.

§ 184-15 Design, installation and maintenance standards.

A. 
The SPS system must be designed and constructed to comply with the New York State Building and Electrical Codes, as amended, and any additional electrical and safety regulations adopted by the State of New York.
B. 
All systems must be installed by a qualified solar installer as defined by this chapter.
C. 
All wiring must be designed and installed to comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC).
D. 
The SPS system must be designed and constructed to comply with the most recent fire code as amended and adopted by the State of New York.
E. 
The SPS shall be properly maintained and be kept free from hazards, including, but not limited to, faulty wiring, loose fastenings, and creation of an unsafe condition or detriment to public health, safety or general welfare. (Will be cross referenced to the maintenance and repair records section.)[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See § 184-9, Maintenance and repair records.

§ 184-16 Setback requirements.

Ground-mounted systems are an accessory use, but subject to setback requirements of a principal structure/use in the zoning district in which the system is to be constructed. The required setbacks are measured from the parcel line to the nearest part of the system. No part of the ground-mounted system shall extend into the required setbacks, including any movement as a result of a tracking system or other adjustment of SPS-related equipment or parts.

§ 184-17 Height restrictions.

Ground-mounted systems may not exceed the permitted height of accessory structures in the zoning district where the SPS system is to be installed or 16 feet from the ground, whichever is less.

§ 184-18 Screening and visibility.

A. 
Ground-mounted systems are required to submit a screening and landscaping plan, stamped and signed by a New York State licensed landscape architect, showing adequate measures to screen through landscaping, grading or other means so that the solar panels and other equipment's visibility is minimized from roadways and neighboring properties. The screening and landscaping plan shall include the locations, elevations, height, plant species, and/or materials that will comprise the structures, landscaping and/or grading used to screen and/or mitigate any adverse aesthetic effects of the system.
B. 
A detailed safety plan specifying the measures that will be used to prevent public access to unsafe areas and to provide for emergency response, including but not limited to the location, height, materials, and colors of fencing and other barriers to access and a safety signage plan that contains the locations, sizes and text of signs that will be used to warn the public away from unsafe areas and that shall include the name and phone number of an official of the owner or operator who can be contacted in the event there is an emergency or any question about safety.
C. 
Documentation shall be provided to identify that no element of the system shall reflect glint or glare (as defined by the FAA).

§ 184-19 Impervious property coverage restrictions.

A. 
The surface area of any ground-mounted system, regardless of the mounted angle of any portion of the system, is considered a pervious surface and shall not be calculated as part of the property lot coverage limitations for the zoning district.
B. 
If the ground-mounted system is mounted above existing impervious surface, it shall not be calculated as an additional part of the property lot coverage limitations for the zoning district. Footers and other hard surfaces placed underneath racking and mounting systems are considered impervious and count towards impervious surface calculations.

§ 184-20 Signage and/or graphic content.

A. 
No signage or graphic content may be displayed on the SPS system except the manufacturer's badge, safety information and equipment specification information. Said information shall be depicted within an area no more than 36 square inches in size.
B. 
Disconnect and other emergency shutoff information will be clearly displayed at/on the meter location for emergency personnel.
C. 
Twenty-four-hour emergency contact information will be clearly displayed on side of structure.
D. 
Systems and sites may not be used for displaying advertising except for reasonable identification of the owner/operator and shall comply with all signage restrictions.