Chapter 18.34

SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS

 

18.34.010

 

Definition.

18.34.020

 

General requirements.

18.34.030

 

Facility removal and site restoration.

 

18.34.010   Definition.  For the purposes of this Chapter, a solar energy system consists of a ground-mounted solar panel array and its associated structures and components. The requirements of this Chapter apply to all solar energy systems that are principal uses.

(Ord. dated 7-25-17; Ord. dated 10-15-19)

 

18.34.020  General requirements.  The following requirements apply to solar energy systems.

A.  All electrical connection and distribution lines within a solar energy system shall be underground. Electrical equipment between the system and the utility connection may be above ground only if required by the utility.

 

B. To prevent unauthorized access, the solar energy system shall be enclosed by a security fence at least six (6) feet high. The security fence may be located in a required yard.

 

C.  Exterior lighting within the solar energy system shall be the minimum necessary. All fixtures shall be full-cut off fixtures approved by the International Dark Sky Association.

 

D.  The maximum height of the panels shall be twelve (12) feet, as measured from the average post-construction grade at the base of the structure.

 

E.  The maximum lot coverage in Sec. 18.20.010 shall not apply to a lot with a solar energy system. The minimum front and side yard depths in Sec. 18.20.010 applicable to permitted uses in the zoning district shall apply. The minimum rear yard depth shall be forty (40) feet.

 

F.   A deer-resistant vegetative buffer sufficient to shield the solar energy panels from view from outside the lot shall be installed and maintained. The vegetative buffer shall be installed between the security fence and the lot boundaries. The buffer shall be of a sufficient height at the time of planting to conceal the solar energy panels. The Planning Board shall have the authority to determine which lot boundaries require vegetative buffering.

 

G.   Development plan approval shall be required. An application for development plan review  shall include:

1.   Written confirmation from the utility that the owner has received preliminary approval to connect the solar energy system to a utility line.

2.   The proposed site layout, a diagram of electrical components, a description of the major system components to be used, and a proposed operation and maintenance plan.

(Ord. dated 7-25-17; Ord. dated 10-15-19)

 

18.34.030   Facility removal and site restoration. The owner of the solar energy system shall provide for decommissioning of the system, removal of the system components, and restoration of the site upon cessation of operation of the system. 

 

A.  The owner of the system shall remove the system and all associated structures and components and restore the site in conformity with the restoration plan approved by the planning board within ninety (90) days of the day the system ceases operation. 

 

B.  The applicant shall submit a decommissioning plan with the application for development plan review. The decommissioning plan shall include a detailed description of existing site conditions in narrative form, a proposal for site restoration in narrative form, and a detailed estimate of the cost of removal of the system and restoration of the site. The site plan submitted for development plan review shall show existing conditions as well as proposed development.

 

C.  The town planner shall refer the applicant's decommissioning plan to one of the town’s consulting professionals for review and comment. The owner shall be responsible for the cost of the review.

1.   The applicant shall make an initial project review fee payment of five hundred dollars when the development plan review application is submitted. Project review fees shall be deposited in a separate interest-bearing account maintained by the finance director. When seventy-five percent of the initial payment has been spent, the town planner may require the applicant to submit additional funds, based on an estimate of the entire cost of the review.

2.  When the planning board receives an invoice from a professional for review services rendered, the board shall review the invoice, approve payment if appropriate, and forward the invoice to the finance director.

3.   The applicant may ask the town planner to refer the review to a different professional if the professional to whom the town planner first refers the application is in a position to benefit financially from approval or disapproval of the application; if the professional is not qualified to undertake the review and render an opinion; or if the  professional has had a business relationship with the applicant during the previous eighteen months.

4.   At any time while the application is pending, the applicant may ask the town planner for an accounting of his or her account balance, including fees paid and payments made on invoices.

5.   Within twenty-one (21) days after the approved development plan is recorded in the land evidence records, the town planner shall arrange with the finance director to return any unspent balance in an applicant's account, together with any interest earned, to the applicant.

 

D.  Before a building permit is issued, the owner shall submit the financial guarantee to the finance director in cash or in the form of a surety bond or other secured instrument to insure that funds are available to decommission and remove the solar energy production equipment and restore the site if the owner of the system is unable or unwilling to do so.

 

1.   The financial guarantee shall be payable to the town. The planning board shall determine the amount and the term of the guarantee. The finance director shall approve the form and duration of the guarantee.

2.   The town shall have the right to require re-evaluation of the amount of the financial guarantee at least twice during the life of the solar energy system to verify that sufficient funds will be available for removal of the equipment and restoration of the site. At the request of the Town Planner or the Director of Finance, the owner of the solar energy system shall submit a detailed estimate of the cost of removal of the system and restoration of the site. The Town Planner shall refer the applicant's cost estimate to one of the town’s consulting professionals for review and comment. The owner shall be responsible for the cost of the review, and the provisions of Subsection C, above, shall apply to the review. After review of the applicant's estimate and the consultant's comments, the Planning Board shall have the authority to require an increase in the amount of the financial guarantee if an increase is warranted. The Planning Board's determination shall be recorded in the land evidence records.

3.   Each development plan approval recorded in the land evidence records shall include, as a condition of approval, the following language: "The town shall have the right to require re-evaluation of the amount of the financial guarantee at least twice during the life of the solar energy system as provided by Sec. 18.34.030(D) of the code of ordinances, as amended."

(Ord. dated 7-25-17; Ord. dated 10-15-19)

 

 

 

 

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