Proposed Local Law #2 of 2016 Town of Webster Solar Energy Law


WHEREAS, it is both in the public interest and required by law that a Public Hearing be held

to consider the proposed additions and amendments to the Webster Town Code:


1. That a Public Hearing shall be scheduled, and conducted at a regular meeting of the Town Board of the Town of Webster to be held at the Town Hall, 1000 Ridge Road, in the Town of Webster on THURSDAY, November 17, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., to consider amendments to, and create and enact a new Chapter of the Code of the Town of Webster.

2. Such Local Law will be designated as:

                           Proposed Local Law NO. 2 OF 2016

Town of Webster Solar Energy Law (version 10-20-2016)

1. Authority

This Zoning for Solar Energy Law is adopted pursuant to section 261-263 of the Town Law of the State of New York, which authorize the Town of Webster 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.

2. Statement of Purpose

A. This Zoning for Solar Energy Law is adopted to advance and protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the Town of Webster, including:

1.) Support for a safe, abundant, renewable, and non-polluting energy resource; and

2.) Decreasing the cost of energy to the all commercial and residential properties in the Town of Webster; and

3. Definitions

BUILDING INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM: A combination of photovoltaic building components integrated into any building envelope system such as vertical facades including glass and other façade material, semi-transparent 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 onsite consumption.

LARGE-SCALE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM: A Solar Energy System that is ground-mounted and produces energy primarily for the purpose of offsite 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 onsite or offsite 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.

4. Applicability

The requirements of this law shall apply to all Solar Energy Systems installed or modified after its effective date, excluding general maintenance and repair and Building Integrated Photovoltaic Systems.

5. Solar Design Standards

A. All Solar Energy Systems shall be designed and installed in conformance with the current International Building Code requirements and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

B. Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Systems.

1.) Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Systems that use the electricity onsite or offsite are permitted as an accessory use in all zoning districts when attached to any lawfully permitted building or structure.

2.) 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.

3.) Aesthetics. Roof-Mounted Solar Energy System installations shall incorporate 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.

b. Panels installed on a flat roof shall be screened by a parapet wall or other approved screening materials at an equal height as the panels.

c. All rooftop installations shall provide a perimeter area around the edges of the roof for emergency access and maintenance work. Larger buildings may be required to provide internal walkways to equipment, access hatches, stairways, ladders, and other roof penetrations or equipment.

C. Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems.

1.) Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems that use the electricity primarily onsite are permitted as accessory structures in all zoning districts.

2.) Height and Setback. Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems shall adhere to the height and setback requirements of the underlying zoning district.

3.) Lot Coverage. Systems are limited to 20% of lot coverage. The surface area covered by Ground-Mounted Solar Panels shall be included in total lot coverage. Area shall be based upon square feet of solar panels.

4.) All such systems in residential districts shall be installed in the side or rear yards with a minimum setback of 25’ to any property lines.

5.) Solar energy facilities shall not 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.) Solar energy facilities shall not be located within any buffer, easement, or environmental protection overlay district.

7.) Solar energy facilities and equipment shall be permitted only if they are determined by the Town of Webster not to present any unreasonable safety risks, including, but not limited to, the following:

a) Weight load.

b) Wind resistance.

c) Ingress or egress in the event of an emergency.

8.) Small solar panels of less than one square yard for charging of batteries and powering small equipment or devices shall not require a permit.

9.) All Solar Energy Systems shall obtain site plan approval from the Webster Planning Board under the local zoning code or other land use regulations.

6. Approval Standards for Large-Scale Solar Energy Systems as a Special Use

A. Large-Scale Solar Energy Systems are permitted through the issuance of a Special Use Permit within all residential districts subject to the requirements set forth in this Section, including site plan approval. Applications for the installation of a Large-Scale Solar Energy System shall be reviewed by the Commissioner of Public Works and referred, with comments, to the Town Board for its review and action, which can include approval, approval with conditions, and denial. Town Board shall refer site plan approval to the Planning Board prior to granting any Special Use Permit.

B. Large-Scale Solar Energy systems are permitted in commercial districts under the site plan review process of the Planning Board. Front setbacks shall comply with the underlying zoning district.

C. Special Use Permit Application Requirements. For a special use permit application, the Town Board shall determine if the special use application is supplemented by the following provisions:

1.) 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.

2.) Blueprints showing the layout of the Solar Energy System shall be signed by a Professional Engineer registered in New York State. Any Solar Energy Systems attached to a structure shall be required to submit a structural report to address all load impacts.

3.) The equipment specification sheets shall be documented and submitted for all photovoltaic panels, significant components, mounting systems, and inverters that are to be installed.

4.) Property Operation and Maintenance Plan. Such plan shall describe continuing photovoltaic maintenance and property upkeep, such as mowing and trimming.

5.) Decommissioning Plan. To ensure the proper removal of Large-Scale Solar Energy Systems, 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 timeline 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.

D. Special Use Permit Standards.

1.) Height and Setback. Large-Scale Solar Energy Systems shall adhere to the height and setback requirements of the underlying zoning district.

2.) Lot Size. Large-Scale Energy Systems shall be located on lots with a minimum lot size of 5 acre.

3.) Lot Coverage. A Large-Scale Solar Energy System that is ground-mounted shall not exceed 20% of the lot on which it is installed. The surface area covered by Solar Panels shall be included in total lot coverage. This lot coverage shall include all structures located on the parcel. A Large-Scale Solar Energy System is permitted as a primary structure in any commercially zoned property. The Town Board shall consider issuance of a Special Use permit in any residential district.

4.) 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 as determined by the Town of Webster in conformance with Section 225-77. The fencing and the system may be further screened by landscaping as needed to avoid adverse aesthetic impacts.

5.) Any application under this Section shall meet any substantive provisions contained in local site plan requirements (Chapter 228) in the zoning code that, in the judgment of the Commissioner of Public Works, are applicable to the system being proposed.

6.) The Town 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).

7. Abandonment and Decommissioning

Solar Energy Systems are considered abandoned when the Code Enforcement Officer determines the site and system has not been maintained, is a safety risk, or after one year without electrical energy generation and must be removed from the property. Applications for extensions shall be reviewed by the Town Board for a period of one year.

8. Appeals

All appeals of any decision by the Town of Webster shall be directed to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

9. 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 Town of Webster.

10. Severability

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.

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3. That the determination of significance under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act will be considered at the time of such Public Hearing.

4. That the Town Clerk give notice of such Public Hearing at least ten (10) days prior to

 such hearing by publishing a copy of this Resolution once in the Webster Herald, the official newspaper of the Town of Webster, and posting a copy thereof on the Town Clerk’s bulletin board.

And duly put to a vote, which resulted as follows:

Vote on the motion was unanimously adopted by the Town Board.

Enter: October 20, 2016 BARBARA J. OTTENSCHOT

              Town Clerk

              Town of Webster