[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Stanford as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-14-2018 by L.L. No. 2-2018]
This article is adopted pursuant to §§ 261 through 263 of the Town Law of the State of New York, which authorize the Town of Stanford to adopt zoning provisions that advance and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and "to make provision for, so far as conditions may permit, the accommodation of solar energy systems and equipment and access to sunlight necessary therefor."
The purpose and objectives of this article are to create synergy between solar and the desire to preserve the rural character of the Town of Stanford, elevate ecological issues to an equal level with other planning issues, and to require new development to capitalize on natural assets, avoid landscape hazards and minimize environmental impact. The proliferation of solar energy systems as an environmentally friendly and cheaper energy alternative is expected in the coming years, and this equipment and the installation thereof must be reasonably regulated to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Town of Stanford and, to the maximum degree possible, to coordinate and control the same to preserve and protect the aesthetic qualities of the Town. The Town recognizes the demand for solar energy systems and the need for the services they provide. This article regulates solar energy system installations to ensure that any such proposed energy system is designed, located, and installed in accordance with sound planning by:
Promoting the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town.
Minimizing the adverse visual effects of alternative energy systems and protecting the natural features, aesthetics, residential and rural character of the Town through careful planning, design. location, buffering, and screening.
Avoiding potential damage to adjacent properties from falling or flying debris from solar energy systems through careful engineering and reasonable siting of energy system structures.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- BUILDING-INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM
- 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 other mounting system, detached from any other structure for the primary purpose of producing electricity for on-site consumption.
- LARGE-SCALE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
- A solar energy system that is ground-mounted and produces energy primarily for the purpose of off-site sale or consumption.
- ROOF-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY 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 conduits 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.
- SPECIAL USE PERMIT
- A use which is deemed permissible within a given zoning district or districts but which may exhibit characteristics or create impacts incompatible with other uses provided therein. The special use shall, therefore, be subject to approval by the Planning Board in accordance with the conditions set forth for such use, as well as the applicable procedure specified in Article VI of Chapter 164, Zoning.
The requirements of this article shall apply to all solar energy systems installed or modified after its effective date, excluding general maintenance and repair and building-integrated photovoltaic systems.
All solar energy systems shall be designed, erected and installed in accordance with all applicable codes, regulations and industry standards as referenced in the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code ("Building Code"), the New York State Energy Conservation Code ("Energy Code"), and the Town Code.
Roof-mounted solar energy systems.
Roof-mounted solar energy systems that use the electricity on site or off site are permitted as an accessory use in all zoning districts when attached to any lawfully permitted building or structure.
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.
Aesthetics. roof-mounted solar energy system installations shall incorporate, when feasible, the following design requirements:
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.
Panels on flat roofs having no parapet shall not extend more than three feet above the height of the roof.
Panels on flat roofs with a parapet shall not extend above the height of the parapet.
All utility services and electrical wiring shall be underground or otherwise placed within conduits securely attached to the roof and walls.
Roof-mounted solar energy systems that use the energy on site or off site shall be exempt from site plan review under the local zoning code or other land use regulations.
Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be permitted, subject to the following standards:
Site plan approval shall be required for each ground-mounted solar energy system, except for a single-family parcel where the installation would comply with each of the standards for a solar energy system as set forth in this article.
Ground-mounted solar energy systems that use the electricity primarily on site are permitted as accessory structures.
Height and setback. Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall adhere to the height and setback requirements of the underlying zoning district.
Ground-mounted solar energy systems in residential districts shall be installed in the side or rear yards and shall be located behind the front line of any principal structure.
No part of the ground-mounted solar energy system shall exceed 12 feet in height above the finished grade of the site at the solar energy system location.
Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be screened to protect the viewshed of neighboring properties by fencing or a combination of fencing and evergreen and deciduous plantings. Plantings used for screening shall be of such a height and width, at the time of planting, to obscure the ground-mounted solar energy system from adjacent properties. Said screening shall be subject to the prior review and approval of the Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer to ensure compliance with this requirement.
Large-scale solar energy systems are permitted through the issuance of a special use permit within the RC District and on Town-owned property, subject to the requirements set forth in this section, including site plan approval, and must meet the requirements of applicable international building codes and New York State supplemental code. Applications for the installation of a large-scale solar energy system shall be reviewed by the Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer and referred, with comments, to the Town Board for its review and action, which can include approval, approval on conditions, and denial.
Special use permit application requirements. For a special permit application, the site plan application is to be used as supplemented by the following provisions:
If the property of the proposed project is to be leased, legal consent between all parties, specifying the use(s) of the land for the duration of the project, including easements and other agreements, shall be submitted.
Construction plans and specifications showing the layout of the large-scale solar energy system signed by a New York State professional engineer or New York State registered architect shall be required.
The equipment specification sheets shall be documented and submitted for all photovoltaic panels, significant components, mounting systems, and inverters that are to be installed.
Property operation and maintenance plan. Such plan shall describe continuing photovoltaic maintenance and property upkeep, such as mowing and trimming.
Decommissioning plan. To ensure the proper removal of a large-scale solar energy system, a decommissioning plan shall be submitted as part of the application. Compliance with this plan shall be made a condition of the issuance of a special use permit under this section. The decommissioning plan must specify that after the large-scale solar energy system can no longer be used, it shall be removed by the applicant or any subsequent owner. The plan shall demonstrate how the removal of all infrastructure and the remediation of soil and vegetation shall be conducted to return the parcel to its original state prior to construction. The plan shall also include an expected time line for execution. A cost estimate detailing the projected cost of executing the decommissioning plan shall be prepared by a professional engineer or contractor. Cost estimations shall take into account inflation. Removal of large-scale solar energy systems must be completed in accordance with the decommissioning plan. If the large-scale solar energy system is not decommissioned after being considered abandoned, the municipality may remove the system and restore the property and impose a lien on the property to cover these costs to the municipality.
Special use permit standards.
Height and setback. Large-scale solar energy systems shall adhere to the height and setback requirements of the underlying zoning district.
All large-scale 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 perimeter of the fencing. The type of fencing shall be determined by the Town of Stanford Planning Board. The fencing and the system may be further screened by any landscaping needed to avoid adverse aesthetic impacts.
Any application under this section shall meet any substantive provisions contained in local site plan requirements in the zoning code that, in the judgment of the Town of Stanford Planning Board, are applicable to the system being proposed. If none of the site plan requirements are applicable, the Town of Stanford Planning Board may waive the requirement for site plan review.
The Town of Stanford Planning Board 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).
Editor's Note: See Environmental Conservation Law § 8-0101 et seq.
If a solar energy system ceases to perform its originally intended function for more than 12 consecutive months, the property owner shall remove the solar energy system no later than 90 days after the end of the twelve-month period. Applications for extensions are reviewed by the Town Board, but such extension application must be made within the twelve-month period of nonuse.
Any violation of this article shall be subject to the same civil and criminal penalties provided for in the zoning regulations of the Town of Stanford.
The invalidity or unenforceability of any section, subsection. paragraph, sentence, clause, provision or phrase of the aforementioned sections 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 full force and effect.
To the extent that any provision of this article is inconsistent with the Town Law or any other provision of Article 16 of the Town Law, or of the Energy Law, or of the Real Property Law, or of the General Municipal Law, the provisions of this article are expressly intended to and do hereby supersede any such inconsistent provisions under the Town's municipal home rule powers, pursuant to Municipal Home Rule Law § 10(1)(ii)(d)(3) and (ii)(a)(14) and § 22 to supersede any inconsistent authority.
This article shall take effect immediately upon filing with this state's Secretary of State.