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Village of Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY
Orange County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Village Board of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson 3-25-2019 by L.L. No. 2-2019. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
The Village Board of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson wishes to promote renewable energy resources by permitting solar energy power systems and limiting their location to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
B. 
This chapter is not intended to repeal, except as herein stated, abrogate or impair existing conditions previously made or permits previously issued relating to the use of buildings or premises or to impair or interfere with any easements, covenants or agreements existing between parties. Except as otherwise provided herein, whenever this chapter imposes a greater restriction upon the use of buildings or premises than is required by existing provisions of law, ordinance, regulations or permits or by such easements, covenants or agreements, the provisions of this chapter shall control.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated, unless the context or subject matter requires otherwise.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SYSTEMS
Structures, equipment, devices or construction techniques used for the production of heat, light, cooling, electricity or other forms of energy on site and may be attached to or separate from the principal structure.
BUILDING-INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC (BIPV) POWER SYSTEM
A solar energy power system that consists of integrating photovoltaic modules into the building structure, such as the roof of the facade and which does not alter the relief of the roof.
COLLECTIVE SOLAR
Solar installations owned collectively through subdivision homeowner associations, college student groups, "adopt-a-solar-panel" programs, or other similar arrangements.
FLUSH-MOUNTED SOLAR PANEL
Photovoltaic panels and tiles that are installed flush to the surface of a roof and which cannot be angled or raised.
FREESTANDING OR GROUND-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY POWER SYSTEM
A solar energy power system that is directly installed in the ground and is not attached or affixed to an existing structure. Pole-mounted solar energy power systems shall be considered freestanding or ground-mounted solar energy power systems for the purposes of this section.
GLARE
The effect produced by reflections of light with an intensity sufficient to cause annoyance, discomfort, or loss in visual performance and visibility.
NET-METERING
A billing arrangement that allows solar customers to get credit for excess electricity that they generate and deliver back to the grid so that they only pay for their net electricity usage at the end of the month.
PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) POWER SYSTEM
A solar energy power system that produces electricity by the use of semiconductor devices, called photovoltaic cells, that generate electricity whenever light strikes them.
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 installers if the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson 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.
ROOFTOP OR BUILDING-MOUNTED SOLAR POWER SYSTEM
A solar power system in which solar panels are mounted on top of the structure of a roof either as a flush-mounted system or as modules fixed to frames which can be tilted toward the south at an optimal angle.
SETBACK
The distance from a front lot line, side lot line or rear lot line of a parcel to any component of a freestanding or ground-mounted solar energy power system, solar farm or solar power plant within which no solar components shall be permitted.
SOLAR ACCESS
Space open to the sun and clear of overhangs or shade including the orientation of streets and lots to the sun so as to permit the use of active and/or passive solar energy power systems on individual properties.
SOLAR COLLECTOR
A solar photovoltaic cell, panel, or array, or solar hot air or water collector device, which relies upon solar radiation as an energy source for the generation of electricity or transfer of stored heat.
SOLAR EASEMENT
An easement recorded pursuant to New York Real Property Law § 335-b, the purpose of which is to secure the right to receive sunlight across real property of another for continued access to sunlight necessary to operate a solar collector.
SOLAR ENERGY EQUIPMENT/POWER SYSTEM
Solar collectors, controls, energy storage devices, heat pumps, heat exchangers, and other materials, hardware or equipment necessary to the process by which solar radiation is collected, converted into another form of energy, stored, protected from unnecessary dissipation and distributed. Solar power systems include solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar. For the purposes of this chapter, a solar energy power system does not include any solar energy power system of four square feet in size or less.
SOLAR FARM OR SOLAR POWER PLANT
Energy generation facility or area of land whose principal use is allowed by site plan approval issued by the Planning Board to convert solar energy to electricity, whether by photovoltaics, concentrating solar thermal devices or various experimental solar technologies, with the primary purpose of wholesale or retail sales of electricity. No other buildings or uses are required unless needed for the solar installation.
SOLAR PANEL
A device for the direct conversion of solar energy into electricity.
SOLAR STORAGE BATTERY
A device that stores energy from the sun and makes it available in an electrical form.
SOLAR THERMAL POWER SYSTEMS
Solar thermal power systems directly heat water or other liquid using sunlight. The heated liquid is used for such purposes as space heating and cooling, domestic hot water, and heating pool water.
A. 
The requirements of this section shall apply to all solar energy power systems and equipment installations modified or installed after the effective date of this section. No solar energy power system or device shall be installed or operated in the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson except in compliance with this chapter.
(1) 
Solar energy power system installations for which a valid building permit has been issued or, if no building permit is presently required, for which installation has been completed before the effective date of this section, shall not be required to meet the requirements of this section.
(2) 
All solar energy power 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 Building Code, including but not limited to the provisions of the International Building Code incorporated therein, the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code and the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson Code.
(3) 
Solar energy power systems, unless part of a solar farm or solar power plant, shall be permitted only to provide power for use by owners, lessees, tenants, residents or other occupants of the premises on which they are erected. Nothing contained in this provision shall be construed to prohibit the sale of excess power through a "net billing" or "net-metering" arrangement in accordance with New York Public Service Law § 66-j or similar state or federal statute.
(4) 
All solar energy power systems and equipment shall be permitted only if they are determined by the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson not to present any unreasonable safety risks, including but not limited to: weight loads, inclusive of snow and ice loads, wind resistance and ingress or egress in the event of fire or other emergency.
(5) 
All solar energy power systems and equipment shall be surfaced, designed and sited so as not to reflect glare onto adjacent properties and roadways.
A. 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV. Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV on residential or commercial structures, are permitted in all zoning districts in the Village subject to the following conditions:
(1) 
Building permits shall be required for installation of all rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV. The applicant shall file an application with the Village, and pay all fees in order to obtain a building permit. No Planning Board approval is required for these installations, unless, in the sole opinion of the Code Enforcement Officer, a Planning Board review is necessary and appropriate.
(2) 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV, shall not exceed the maximum permitted building height in the zoning district where the system is to be located; shall not extend above any roof ridgeline, and shall not extend beyond the structure.
(3) 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV, shall match the contour and slope of the existing roof structure.
(4) 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems should use or include thin film PV systems where possible, and the architectural integration of rooftop panels and solar shingles, particularly on older and historic buildings, is encouraged.
(5) 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV, are only permitted on structures and are not permitted on accessory structures.
(6) 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV, must be 18 inches from any chimney and shall not be permitted on any roof overhangs.
(7) 
In order to ensure firefighter and other emergency responder safety, rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems, including BIPV, shall be installed in accordance with the following:
(a) 
Each photovoltaic array shall not exceed 150 feet in any direction.
(b) 
Panels, modules or arrays installed on roofs with a single ridge shall be located in a manner that provides two thirty-six-inch-wide access pathways extending from the roof access point to the ridge.
(c) 
Panels, modules or arrays installed on dwellings with hip roofs shall be located in a manner that provides a clear access pathway not less than 36 inches wide, extending from the roof access point to the ridge or peak, on each roof slope where panels, modules or arrays are located.
(d) 
Panels and modules shall not be located less than 18 inches from a valley, ridge or peak on any roof.
(e) 
In the event any of these standards are more stringent than the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, they shall be deemed to be installation guidelines only and the standards of the state code shall apply.
B. 
Solar-thermal power systems. Solar-thermal power systems are permitted in the Village under the following conditions:
(1) 
Solar thermal systems that the Code Enforcement Officer determines are primarily constructed as rooftop, building-mounted, or building-integrated systems must comply with the requirements of §§ 173-3 and 173-4.
(2) 
Solar thermal systems that the Code Enforcement Officer determines are primarily constructed as freestanding or ground-mounted systems must comply with §§ 173-3 and Section 173-5.
A. 
Freestanding or ground-mounted solar power systems are permitted in all zoning districts as an accessory structure to single-family and two-family residences under the following conditions: freestanding and ground-mounted solar energy systems shall not be permitted in any flood zone, wet land or required buffer area.
(1) 
Building permits shall be required for the installation of all freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems. No Planning Board approval is required for these installations, unless, in the sole opinion of the Code Enforcement Officer, Planning Board review is necessary and appropriate.
(2) 
Freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems shall only be permitted on lots with a minimum size of 80,000 square feet. Developmental coverage on a lot, including freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems, shall not exceed that permitted in the bulk table for single-family and two-family residences in the zoning district in which the lot is located.
(3) 
The minimum setback for freestanding or ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be 150% of the applicable residential zoning district. If the zoning district within which the system is proposed to be located contains greater side yard and/or rear yard setback requirements for accessory buildings, then the location of the solar collector must meet the greater setback requirements.
(4) 
All freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems shall be enclosed by a six-foot solid fence (or fence with privacy slats), and landscaping shall be provided at the fence line to reduce adverse visual impacts.
(5) 
Freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems shall be located in a manner to reasonably minimize view blockage for, surrounding properties and shading of property to the north, while still providing adequate solar access for collectors.
(6) 
Freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems, including any mounts, shall not exceed five feet in height when oriented at maximum tilt.
(7) 
Freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems can only be installed in side or rear yards. No front yard installations are permitted.
(8) 
Any application for the installation of freestanding or ground-mounted solar power systems which will produce power in excess of the amount specified in § 173-3A(3) above shall constitute an application for site plan approval which shall require the Planning Board's approval pursuant to Chapter 172 of the Village Code. Any solar installations that require Planning Board site plan approval can, based on surrounding uses, be required to install additional screening and/or fencing to mitigate visual impact.
(9) 
Freestanding and ground-mounted solar energy collectors shall be screened when possible and practicable through the use of architectural features, earth berms, landscaping, or other screening which will harmonize with the character of the property and surrounding area.
(10) 
The total surface area of all ground-mounted and freestanding solar collectors on a lot shall not exceed the area of the ground covered by the building structure of the largest building on the lot, providing that nonresidential placements exceeding this size may be approved by the Planning Board, subject to site plan review pursuant to this chapter.
A. 
Freestanding or ground-mounted solar power systems installed pursuant to this section shall be considered accessory uses which shall require site plan approval. Accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems are permitted in all zoning districts as an accessory structure subject to the following conditions:
(1) 
Site plan approval granted by the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson Planning Board is required under Chapter 172 of the Village Code. If an accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power system is installed after site plan approval and/or construction has already been completed at the site, a site plan amendment approval is required.
(2) 
In all commercial and industrial districts, the minimum setback for freestanding or ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be 100% of the applicable setback requirements for any accessory structures for the applicable commercial or industrial zoning district. The Planning Board may require increased setbacks as it deems necessary based on the surrounding conditions.
(3) 
Developmental coverage on a lot, including accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems shall not exceed that permitted in the bulk table for the primary use of the lot in the zoning district in which the lot is located.
(4) 
All accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems shall be enclosed by a minimum of a six-foot solid fence (or fence with privacy slats), and landscaping shall be provided at the fence line to reduce adverse visual impacts.
(5) 
Accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems shall be located in a manner to reasonably minimize view blockage for surrounding properties and shading of property to the north, while still providing adequate solar access for collectors. Additional screening may be required as part of the Planning Board approval.
(6) 
Accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems, including any mounts, shall not exceed five feet in height when oriented at maximum tilt.
(7) 
Accessory freestanding and ground-mounted solar power systems can only be installed in side or rear yards. No front yard installations are permitted.
(8) 
The installation of accessory freestanding or ground-mounted solar power systems shall be considered a development or development activity for purposes of Chapter 132, Stormwater Management, of the Code of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson. The site shall comply with all current standards for New York State stormwater regulations.
(9) 
Any application for the installation of accessory freestanding or ground-mounted solar power systems which will produce power in excess of the amount specified in § 173-3A(3) above shall constitute an application for a site plan approvals which shall require the Planning Board's additional approval pursuant to Chapter 172 of the Village Code. Any solar installations that require Planning Board approval can, based on surrounding uses, be required to install additional screening and/or fencing to mitigate visual impact.
Solar farms and solar power plants shall be permitted uses and permitted structures in the Industrial (I) zoning district only, subject to the following conditions:
A. 
Site plan approval granted by the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson Planning Board is required under Chapter 172 of the Village Code. Prior to any public hearing on the application by the Planning Board pursuant to § 172-31 of the Village Code, the Planning Board shall refer the completed application to the Village Board for review and report. The Planning Board shall not hold a public hearing on the application without such report from the Village Board unless the Village Board fails for any reason to render such report within 45 days following the date of such referral. All applications for solar farms and solar power plants shall include the following (in addition to all other submittal requirements for site plans):
(1) 
A written narrative describing how the solar farm or solar power plant will be constructed, operated and maintained.
(2) 
Manufacturer's information and specifications for the proposed solar farm or solar power plant.
(3) 
A written narrative describing the eventual decommissioning of the solar farm or solar power plant that describes the anticipated life of the solar farm or solar power plant, the estimated decommissioning costs and the method for insuring funds will be available for decommissioning and restoration of the site in compliance with § 173-9.
B. 
Compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act shall be required. Applicants shall prepare and submit a completed Part I of a Full Environmental Assessment Form, together with such additional analyses as may be required by the Planning Board.
C. 
The installation of a solar farm or solar power plant shall be considered a Development or Development Activity for the purposes of Chapter 132, Stormwater Management, of the Code of the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson. The site shall comply with all current standards for New York State stormwater regulations.
D. 
The site plan shall indicate all existing and proposed access to the site, including the location of all access roads, gates, parking areas, electric power supplies, emergency access, and other utilities existing and proposed within the property boundaries. All easements and rights-of-way should be shown on the site plan.
E. 
The manufacturer's or installer's identification and appropriate warning signage shall be posted at the site and clearly visible.
F. 
The solar farm or solar power plant shall be substantially screened from view from adjoining properties and from public and private roadways, and street rights-of-way when possible and practicable, through the use of architectural features, earth berms, landscaping, or other screening which will harmonize with the character of the property and surrounding area. The proposed screening shall not interfere with the normal operation of the solar collectors. Additional screening may be required as part of the Planning Board approval.
G. 
All solar farm or solar power plant equipment and installations shall be subject to a minimum thirty-foot setback from all property lines. The Planning Board may require increased setbacks as it deems necessary based on the surrounding conditions.
H. 
A solar farm or solar power plant shall only be permitted on lots with a minimum size of five acres.
I. 
Notwithstanding bulk table requirements to the contrary, developmental coverage of a lot with a solar farm or solar power plant shall not exceed 85%.
J. 
The height of the freestanding or ground-mounted solar collectors and any mounts shall not exceed 10 feet when oriented at maximum tilt.
K. 
The solar farm or solar power plant installation shall be enclosed by a minimum six-foot solid fence (or fence with privacy slats), and landscaping shall be provided at the fence line to reduce adverse visual impacts. The Planning Board may require a greater height in fencing depending on individual conditions.
L. 
Solar farm and solar power plant panels and equipment shall be surfaced, designed and sited so as not to reflect glare onto adjacent properties and roadways.
M. 
On-site power lines shall, to the maximum extent practicable, be placed underground.
N. 
Plans and drawings of the solar energy system installation signed by a professional engineer registered in New York State showing the proposed layout of the entire solar energy system along with a description of all components, whether on site or off site, existing vegetation and proposed clearing and grading of all sites involved.
O. 
An electrical diagram detailing the solar energy system installation, associated components, and electrical interconnection methods, with all disconnects and over-current devices identified.
P. 
Plan for clearing and/or grading of site.
Q. 
Documentation of utility notification, including electric service order number.
R. 
All applications shall include a visual analysis using line-of-sight profiles and color photographs from public viewing locations.
S. 
Photo simulations shall be included showing the proposed solar energy system in relation to the building/site along with elevation views and dimensions, and manufacturer's specifications and photographs of the proposed solar energy system, solar collectors, and all other components.
T. 
Details of the proposed noise that may be generated by inverter fans. The Planning Board may require a noise analysis to determine potential adverse noise impacts.
U. 
Applications must demonstrate compliance with all the general standards for all site plan approvals as set forth elsewhere in the Village Code.
V. 
Solar farms and solar power plants are not permitted on ridge lines or slopes exceeding 15%.
W. 
Solar farm and solar power plant buildings and accessory structures shall, to the extent reasonably possible, use materials, colors, and textures that will blend the facility into the existing environment.
X. 
No more than 15% of the total existing brush, trees and other screening vegetation on a parcel of property may be removed in order to accommodate a solar farm.
Y. 
The site shall include prominent and clear identification of the property address and of the address and phone number of the owner and operator in the case of emergency.
Z. 
The area beneath the collectors shall not be used for storage of any equipment or material.
AA. 
Lot surface coverage limitations. The surface area beneath all solar collectors shall be included in calculating maximum permitted lot coverage limitations.
BB. 
Solar farms and solar power plants shall not be permitted in any New York State or federally mapped flood zones, flood plains, wetland or buffer areas.
A. 
All solar energy power system installations must be performed by a qualified solar installer.
B. 
Prior to operation, electrical connections must be inspected by a Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson Code Enforcement Officer and by an appropriate electrical inspection person or agency as determined by the Village.
C. 
Any connection to the public utility grid must be inspected by the appropriate public utility.
D. 
Solar energy power systems shall be maintained in good working order.
E. 
Rooftop and building-mounted solar power systems shall meet New York's Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code standards.
F. 
If solar storage batteries are included as part of the solar power system, they must be placed in a secure container or enclosure meeting the requirements of the New York State Building Code when in use and when no longer used shall be disposed of in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Village and other applicable laws and regulations.
G. 
If the solar power system ceases to perform its originally intended function for more than 12 consecutive months, the property owner shall remove the collectors, mount and associated equipment no later than 90 days after the end of the twelve-month period.
H. 
Solar energy power systems and equipment shall be marked in order to provide emergency responders with appropriate warning and guidance with respect to isolating the solar energy power system. Materials used for marking shall be weather resistant.
A. 
If a solar energy power system ceases to perform its originally intended function for more than 12 consecutive months, the property owner shall remove the power system, mount and associated equipment from the property no later than 90 days after the end of the twelve-month period.
B. 
If a freestanding solar power system, ground-mounted solar power system, solar farm or solar power plant ceases to perform its originally intended function for more than 12 consecutive months, it shall be removed from the premises to a place of safe and legal disposal. Any and all structures and accessory structures shall also be removed. The site shall be restored to as natural a condition as possible. Such removal shall be completed within 18 months of the cessation of active and continuous use. A permit for the demolition of the system shall be required under § 58-4 of the Village Code.
C. 
If the owner of a freestanding solar power system, ground-mounted solar power system, solar farm or solar power plant that has ceased operation as provided in § 173-9 fails to remove the system, the Village may serve on the owner a notice of demand to remove.
(1) 
Notice shall be served upon the owner or owners by certified mail, addressed to his or their last known address, and/or posting of said notice on the premises and mailing a copy of said notice to the owner at the address or addresses as recorded in the Sole Assessor's office on the same day as posted. Service of notice upon any owner of land, or the designated person to receive process as provided by law, shall suffice for the purposes of this section.
(2) 
Whenever a notice or notices referred to in this chapter has or have been served upon or posted on said real property requiring such owner or owners of the respective lots or parcels to remove a freestanding solar power system, ground-mounted solar power system, solar farm or solar power plant, and such owner or owners shall neglect or fail to comply with the requirements of such notice or notices within the time provided therein, the Village Board may authorize the work to be done and pay the cost thereof out of general Village funds or authorize Village employees and equipment to perform the work.
(3) 
The Village shall be reimbursed for the cost of the work performed or services rendered by direction of the Village's Board, as herein provided, by assessment and levy upon the lots or parcels of land wherein such work was performed or such services rendered, and the expenses so assessed shall constitute a lien and charge on the real property on which they are levied until paid or otherwise satisfied or discharged and shall be collected in the same manner and at the same time as other Village charges.
The provisions of Chapter 172, Article IX, Enforcement, shall apply to any violation of this chapter.
A. 
If a person is found to be in violation of the provisions of this section, appeals should be made in accordance with the established procedures and time limits of the Zoning Code[1] and New York State Town Law.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 172, Zoning.
B. 
If a building permit for a solar energy power system is denied based upon a failure to meet the requirements of this section, the applicant may seek relief from the Zoning Board of Appeals in accordance with the established procedures and time limits of the Zoning Code[2] and New York State Town Law.
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 172, Zoning.
The fees for all building permits required herein shall be paid at the time each building permit application is submitted pursuant to the Schedule of Fees provided for in the Village Code.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: The current Fee Schedule is on file in the Village offices.