City of Albany, NY
Albany County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 375-93 Solar energy equipment.

[Amended 3-15-1999 by Ord. No. 62.121.98; 10-6-2008 by Ord. No. 2.12.08]
A. 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BUILDING-INTEGRATED PHOTOVOLTAIC (BIPV) SYSTEMS
A solar energy system that consists of integrating photovoltaic modules into the building envelope, such as the roof or the facade.
GROUND-MOUNTED
Directly installed in the ground and not attached or affixed to an existing structure.
PASSIVE SOLAR SYSTEM
A solar energy system that relies upon original or retrofitted design features and building materials of a structure to enhance the use of natural forces to provide heating and cooling within a building.
PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) SYSTEMS
A solar energy system that produces electricity by the use of semiconductor devices, called photovoltaic cells, that generate electricity whenever light strikes them.
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 ENERGY EQUIPMENT
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 systems include solar thermal, photovoltaic, and passive solar.
SOLAR-THERMAL SYSTEMS
A solar energy system that generates energy by collecting and focusing solar energy onto a small area to heat a fluid to a high temperature, which in turn drives an electric generator.
B. 
Solar energy and solar access are recognized as valid public rights, and the use of solar energy equipment for the purpose of providing electricity and energy for heating and/or cooling has been determined to be a priority and is a necessary component of the City of Albany's current and long-term sustainability agenda; therefore, passive and active solar energy equipment are permitted outright as an accessory use to all principal permitted uses within all zoning districts, subject to the restraints imposed by this chapter and Article XII of Chapter 42. Where there is a conflict between solar energy goals and the goals of this chapter, the applicant may make redress to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a determination pursuant to § 375-25, and the Board shall regard solar energy as a factor to be considered, weighed and balanced along with other factors.
C. 
Installations of solar energy equipment in any residential district or C-1 Neighborhood Commercial District shall comply with the following guidelines:
(1) 
Placements of solar collectors on a gabled, hipped or mansard roof shall be mounted parallel to and no more than 12 inches from the roof surface.
(2) 
Placement of solar collectors on flat roofs shall be allowed as of right in nonhistoric districts, provided that panels do not extend past the roofline. While there are aesthetic considerations, the City has determined that the environmental and economic benefits outweigh potential aesthetic impacts. Planning staff shall approve installation designs prior to issuance of permits. If denied by Planning staff, the Director of Buildings shall issue a letter of denial, and the applicant may appeal this decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
(3) 
Installations in C-1 Districts shall be reviewed by Planning staff prior to the issuance of building permits as per § 375-43. Planning staff shall approve installation designs prior to issuance of permits. If denied by Planning staff, the Director of Buildings shall issue a letter of denial, and the applicant may appeal this decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
(4) 
Installations in designated historic districts as shall require a certificate of appropriateness form the Historic Resources Commission as per §§ 42-90 and 375-57.
D. 
Installations of rooftop and building-mounted solar energy equipment in all other districts shall be permitted as an accessory use.
E. 
Ground-mounted solar collectors are permitted as accessory structures in all zoning districts, subject to the following requirements:
(1) 
The location of the solar collector meets all applicable setback requirements for accessory structures as identified in § 375-136.
(2) 
The height and the total surface area of all ground-mounted and freestanding solar collectors on the lot shall require approval from Planning staff prior to the issuance of building permits and take into account potential impacts on neighboring properties. If denied by Planning staff, the Director of Buildings shall issue a letter of denial, and the applicant may appeal this decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
(3) 
The solar collector is located in a side or rear yard.
(4) 
The solar collectors do not emit unreasonable glare and negatively impact adjacent properties.
F. 
Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems shall be permitted in all districts subject to all necessary permit and Building Code requirements.
G. 
Solar energy equipment shall be located in a manner to minimize view blockage for surrounding properties and shading of property to the north, while still providing adequate solar access for collectors.
H. 
If a solar collector ceases to perform its originally intended function for more than 12 consecutive months, the property owner shall remove the collector, mount and associated equipment by no later than 90 days after the end of the twelve-month period.

§ 375-94 Satellite dish antennas.

Except within the C-3 Zoning District in accordance herein, no satellite/television dish antenna shall be erected and/or otherwise maintained without first having applied for a special use permit.
A. 
All residential districts and C-1 Neighborhood Commercial Districts.
(1) 
Placement shall be in the back yard of the premises served.
(2) 
No antenna shall be installed on a portable or movable structure, such as a trailer.
(3) 
Satellite earth stations shall not be visible between ground level and six feet above ground level from any street adjoining the lot. They shall be screened from view by a six-foot high wood or wall or by natural evergreen vegetation. Berms may be employed in conjunction with the landscaping plan.
(4) 
Placement must comply with setback requirements for accessory structures.
(5) 
Only one satellite antenna shall be permitted on any lot.
(6) 
Such satellite equipment, landscaping and screening shall be kept and maintained in good condition.
B. 
All other commercial districts.
(1) 
Satellite dish antennas may be roof-mounted.

§ 375-95 Radio and other antennas.

A. 
All installations shall be ground-mounted.
B. 
All radio antennas in any zone shall be limited to 75 feet.
C. 
Placement, including all screening treatments at the base and guy wire bases, shall be in the rear yard of the property and shall maintain a minimum ten-foot setback from all property lines.
[Amended 3-15-1999 by Ord. No. 62.121.98]
D. 
All installations shall be screened from view by a six-foot high fence, wall or natural vegetation. Berms may be employed in conjunction with the landscaping plan.

§ 375-96 Skywalks.

No skywalks shall be permitted without a special use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

§ 375-97 Permanent and portable aboveground swimming pools.

Swimming pools, both permanent and portable, accessory to a dwelling shall be regulated as follows:
A. 
May be erected only on the same lot as the principal structure.
B. 
May be erected only in the rear yard of such structure and be:
(1) 
A minimum of six feet from any side yard.
(2) 
A minimum of 10 feet from the rear lot line.
(3) 
A minimum of six feet from the principal structure, porch or deck attached to the house. With respect to aboveground swimming pools, said distances shall be measured from the outer edge of any deck or platform attached to the wall of the pool.
C. 
The pool, subject to the above requirements, shall be completely surrounded by a fence or wall, the top of which on its perimeter shall be four feet above grade. The pool shall be enclosed in a manner consistent with the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.

§ 375-98 Location of fences and walls.

Fences and walls shall be permitted in residential districts in accordance with the following provisions:
A. 
In residential zoning districts. Fences not exceeding four feet in height and not more than 60% solid may be located in any front yard or in any yard with street frontage. In such a yard, a fence more than four feet in height and more than 60% solid shall be permitted only if it complies with the front yard requirement listed in the Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls[1] for the appropriate district, unless the existing principal dwelling is closer to the street than allowed by the Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls, in which case such fence shall be located no closer to the street than the existing dwelling.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
In any yard without street frontage, fences shall not exceed six feet in height.
C. 
In an M-1 General Industrial District only, where fences do not abut a residential district, fences may be employed to a height of eight feet, employing the top 18 inches of barbed (not razor-barb) wire if desired.
D. 
In all other nonresidential districts, fences and walls accessory to nonresidential uses or on vacant lots shall not exceed six feet in height.
E. 
No minimum distance shall be required between a fence or wall and a lot line, unless otherwise specified in this chapter.
F. 
Fences constructed for the purpose of enclosing a tennis court may exceed the six-foot maximum but may not be located closer than 10 feet from the property line.

§ 375-99 Fence and wall materials.

A. 
A fence designed to be structurally supported by posts, cross members or rails on one side only shall be erected with the posts, cross members or rails on the fence owner's side, and the finished side of the fence shall face adjacent properties.
B. 
No fence intended as a permanent structure shall be constructed of canvas, cloth, wire mesh, chicken wire, snow fencing or any other similar material.
C. 
No fence or wall shall include barbed wire, broken glass, electrification or other material or device intended to cause injury.
D. 
All fences and walls in any zoning district shall be maintained in a structurally sound condition. Elements or finishes that become deteriorated shall be repaired or replaced promptly.

§ 375-100 Essential services.

Essential services are permitted in all zoning districts.

§ 375-101 Adult entertainment establishments. [1]

[Added 10-18-1999 by Ord. No. 23.91.99]
A. 
In order to prevent the proliferation of crime and effects of crime associated with adult entertainment establishments within M-1 Zoning Districts and the zoning districts surrounding M-1 Zoning Districts throughout the City of Albany, to maintain property values, to protect children and to preserve the historic and scenic qualities of the City of Albany, adult entertainment establishments as defined in § 375-7 shall be permitted subject to the following additional standards:
(1) 
Adult entertainment establishments shall be located at least 1,000 feet from a church or other place of religious worship, a school, a residential zoning district or a park, playground or playing field; however, on or after the effective date of this section, an adult entertainment establishment that otherwise complies with the provisions of this subsection shall not be rendered nonconforming if a church or other place of religious worship, a school, a residential zoning district or a park, playground or playing field is established on or after the effective date of this subsection within 1,000 feet of such adult entertainment establishment.
(2) 
Adult entertainment establishments shall be located at least 1,000 feet from another adult entertainment establishment.
(3) 
No more than one adult entertainment establishment shall be located on a zoning lot.
(4) 
Adult entertainment establishments shall not exceed in total 10,000 square feet of floor area and cellar space not used for enclosed storage or mechanical equipment.
B. 
A nonconforming adult entertainment establishment shall terminate within one year from the effective date of this section or from such later date that the adult entertainment establishment becomes nonconforming, except that such establishment may be continued for a limited period of time by the Board of Zoning Appeals, provided that:
(1) 
An application is made by the owner of such establishment to the Board of Zoning Appeals at least 120 days prior to the date on which such establishment must terminate; and
(2) 
The Board shall find, in connection with such establishment, that:
(a) 
The applicant had made, prior to the nonconformity, substantial financial expenditures related to the nonconformity; and
(b) 
The applicant has not recovered substantially all of the financial expenditures related to the nonconformity; and
(c) 
The period for which such establishment may be permitted to continue is the minimum period sufficient for the applicant to recover substantially all of the financial expenditures incurred related to the nonconformity.
(3) 
For the purpose of this section, "financial expenditures" shall mean the capital outlay made by the applicant to establish the adult entertainment establishment, exclusive of the fair market value of the building in which such use is located and exclusive of any improvements unrelated to the nonconforming adult entertainment establishment.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 375-101, Nursery schools and day-care centers, was repealed 3-15-1999 by Ord. No. 62.121.98.

§ 375-102 Farmers' markets.

Temporary (open no longer than 10 hours per week) farmers' markets are permitted in all commercial districts, provided that there shall be no offensive odors or dust and there shall be no permanent outdoor storage of equipment.

§ 375-103 Animal hospitals, kennels, veterinary clinics and pounds.

A. 
No such use shall be located closer than 300 feet to any R district, unless all animals are kept indoors. Adequate measures and controls shall be taken to prevent offensive noise and odor.
B. 
No more than five dogs and/or cats shall be kept in a residential zoning district without a special use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

§ 375-104 Conversion from a one-family home to a two-family home.

A. 
Conversions from a one-family house to a two-family house shall be permitted only as a special use in all of the R-2 residential districts, and provided further that a conversion is in accordance with the following provisions:
(1) 
Where such conversion is undertaken, there shall be provided on the same zone lot not less than one additional off-street parking space in accordance with the provisions of § 375-173B(2) hereof.
(2) 
Such structure shall contain not fewer than 1,600 square feet of living space, and no dwelling unit therein shall contain less than 600 square feet of living space.
(3) 
There shall not be more than the maximum number of dwelling units that are permitted in the respective districts.
(4) 
Such conversions may be permitted on zone lots of not less than the minimum area required for the district where situated.
(5) 
Fire escapes. If required as a result of the conversion, no fire escape or second means of egress shall be attached to that portion of the dwelling bordering the front yard visible from the street right-of-way.
B. 
Conversions from a one-family home to a two-family home shall be permitted without a special use permit in all R-3 and R-4 residential zoning districts and shall be subject to the provisions listed above.

§ 375-105 Conversion from a two-family residence to a one-family residence.

In any R district, it is permitted to convert any two-family residence into a single-family residence.

§ 375-106 Home occupations.

A home occupation may be operated only if it complies with all of the following conditions:
A. 
Where permitted. Home occupations are permitted in certain zoning districts as listed in the Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls[1] and within a single-dwelling unit, or in a building or other structure accessory to a dwelling unit, and only by the person or persons maintaining their primary residence in said dwelling unit. For the purposes of this section, "primary residence" is defined as the location of an individual's residence for more than six months of the year.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
Evidence of use. It shall not display or create outside the building any evidence of the home occupation, except that one unanimated, nonilluminated flat or window sign having an area of not more than two square feet shall be permitted on each street front of the zone lot on which the building is situated.
C. 
Extent of use. It shall not utilize more than 25% of the gross floor area of the dwelling unit, but in no case shall it exceed 500 square feet.
D. 
Permitted uses. It shall include not more than one of the following uses, provided that such uses are clearly incidental and secondary to the use of the dwelling unit for residential purposes:
(1) 
Custom dressmaking.
(2) 
Artist, musician or tutor for not more than two students simultaneously.
(3) 
Office of engineer, architect or lawyer.
(4) 
Real estate, insurance or accounting.
(5) 
Photography.
(6) 
Telephone answering service.
(7) 
Other uses consistent with the scope and intent of this section as determined and approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
E. 
Employees on site. No more than one employee or assistant in addition to the home occupant may be engaged on the premises in the home occupation at any given time. No other partner, principal or professional may be employed on site.
F. 
Alterations. No alteration of the principal residential building shall be made which changes the character and appearance of the dwelling.
G. 
Outdoor storage. There shall be no outdoor storage of equipment or materials used in the home occupation.
H. 
Not more than one commercial vehicle shall be permitted in connection with any home occupation and shall be stored in an enclosed garage.
I. 
No mechanical, electrical or other equipment which produces noise, electrical or magnetic interference, vibration, heat, glare or other nuisance outside the residential or accessory structure shall be used.

§ 375-107 Outdoor storage areas, including junkyards and automobile wrecking; portable storage containers.

[Amended 8-1-2011 by Ord. No. 7.12.10]
A. 
Junkyards and automobile wrecking lots shall not be located within 200 feet of the nearest R district, and the operation thereof shall be governed by the following provisions and any other conditions as may be required by the Board of Zoning Appeals to protect the public health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare with special regard to abutting properties and the occupants thereof.
B. 
All outdoor trash storage shall be in accordance with Chapter 313 of the City Code. In addition, all trash storage accessory to buildings with more than four dwelling units or having a commercial or industrial use shall:
(1) 
Be enclosed by a solid fence, six feet in height.
(2) 
Be located no less than 10 feet from the property line.
C. 
All outdoor storage facilities shall be enclosed by a solid fence or wall six feet in height adequate to conceal such facilities and the contents thereof from adjacent property. Such walls and fences shall be distant not less than 10 feet from any property line.
(1) 
No materials or wastes shall be deposited on any premises in such form or manner that they may be transferred off such premises by natural causes or forces.
(2) 
All materials or wastes which might cause fumes or dust or which constitute a fire hazard or which may be edible by or otherwise be attractive to rodents or insects shall be stored outdoors only in closed containers.
(3) 
Inflammable, explosive liquids and gases: See the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code.
D. 
Portable storage containers shall be prohibited upon a lot within a residential district or upon a vacant commercial lot, except where said containers provide necessary storage for an active construction project, are necessitated by an act of God, or to assist in moving in or out of a residence.
(1) 
A portable storage container shall not be placed on any property more than two times per calendar year and not more than 30 days at a time. The Building Inspector may approve an extension of time in writing, but in no event shall the extension exceed three months.
(2) 
All portable storage containers shall be securely closed when not in use. No materials, property or goods shall be stored outside of a container during the hours between sunset of one day and sunrise of the next day, except if the container is being used in conjunction with construction, and in such case only construction materials may be left outside of the container.

§ 375-108 Special residential uses in urban renewal areas.

Whenever the Common Council enacts an urban renewal plan pursuant to the laws of the State of New York, all residential and mixed-use buildings within the area encompassed by the plan may contain dwelling units in excess of those otherwise authorized by the Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls,[1] provided that the plan so authorizes, and provided that such excess residential use shall be found by the Commissioner to comply with the following requirements:
A. 
That the cost of the rehabilitation of the building in conformance with the Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls[2] exceeds the index set forth in the urban renewal plan. The cost of rehabilitation shall be the total estimated cost of rehabilitation as certified by a licensed architect or licensed engineer.
[2]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls is included at the end of this chapter.
B. 
That the total area of habitable space, as defined by the City of Albany Housing Code,[3] in the existing building contains a minimum of 1,800 square feet and that the habitable space of each dwelling unit in the rehabilitated building contains a minimum of 600 square feet.
[3]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 231, Housing.
C. 
That no additions be made to the existing building so as to increase the number of dwelling units in the building.
D. 
That the entire building shall be rehabilitated in conformance with the urban renewal plan, as determined by the Urban Renewal Agency.
E. 
Such other conditions as the plan may require.
[1]
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Use, Area and Height Controls is included at the end of this chapter.

§ 375-109 Garage sales in residential districts.

In any R zone, not more than six garage or estate sales shall take place within one calendar year at any residence.

§ 375-110 Service station locations.

No service station shall be located within 200 feet of any church, school, library or hospital unless authorized by the Common Council.

§ 375-111 Gasoline pump locations.

No gasoline pump shall be located closer than 15 feet to any property line.

§ 375-112 Mechanical automobile washing establishments.

In addition to meeting the required minimum yard and lot coverage requirements for the zoning district, these establishments shall be subject to the following regulations:
A. 
Such establishments shall not be closer than 200 feet to an R district.
B. 
Such establishments shall be located on a public street having a pavement width of not less than 36 feet and shall provide ingress and egress so as to minimize traffic congestion.
C. 
Such establishments, in addition to meeting the standard off-street parking and loading requirements, shall provide at least eight off-street automobile waiting spaces on the zone lot in the moving lane to the automobile washing building entrance so as to reduce the number of automobiles waiting in the public street.

§ 375-112.1 External fuel-burning and heating devices.

[Added 6-21-2010 by Ord. No. 12.12.10]
A. 
Residences and commercial establishments situated within the City of Albany are entitled to clean air and environmental circumstances free of unreasonable dust, obnoxious odors, noxious fumes and smells, as well as an environment free of stored debris and storage of combustible fuels in adjacent or exposed exterior areas within densely populated areas.
B. 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
EXTERIOR FURNACE
Any device, contrivance or apparatus or any part thereof which is installed, affixed or situated out-of-doors for the primary purpose of the combustion of fuel from which heat or energy is derived and intended to be directed therefrom by conduit or other mechanism into any interior space for the supply of heat or energy.
EXTERIOR FURNACE DEVICE
Any contrivance, apparatus or part thereof, including a boiler, fire box, exchanger, grate, fuel gun, fuel nozzle, chimney, smoke pipe, exhaust conduit and like devices used for the burning of combustible fuels for the creation of heat or energy from an exterior location into an interior location.
C. 
Prohibition on installation or use. The installation or use of any exterior furnace or exterior furnace device is prohibited with the limits of the City of Albany.
D. 
This section shall in no way be construed nor is the same intended to prohibit the installation, operation or use of exterior chimneys, stovepipes or similar contrivances that are otherwise in conformity with other federal or state laws, rules or regulations constituting any part of any interior furnace system or interior stove system or operation, or any system that provides the exhaust of waste heat, smoke or similar substances from interior spaces.

§ 375-112.2 Natural gas extraction.

[Added 4-16-2012 by Ord. No. 19.32.12]
The Common Council of the City of Albany finds, declares and determines that the exploration for natural gas, the extraction of natural gas and the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes in the urban environment of Albany poses a significant threat to its residents’ health, safety and welfare. If natural gas exploration or extraction or the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes were to occur within the City, this activity would endanger the health, safety and welfare of City residents through the deposit of toxins into the air, soil, water, environment and the bodies of residents within the City. Clean air and water are essential to most resources and activities in the Albany area, and the quality of the air and the water will be degraded by natural gas exploration and extraction activities and/or the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes, and natural gas exploration and extraction activities and the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes may presently or in the future cause irreparable harm to the City’s water supply, pollution of the water, soil and air, and may cause cancer, lung disease and respiratory diseases. This section is not directed at the regulatory scheme for the operation of natural gas wells under the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law of New York State.[1] It only addresses land use and nuisance concerns and the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the people of the City of Albany and the enhancement of its physical environment.
A. 
“Exploration” shall mean geologic or geophysical activities related to the search for natural gas or other subsurface hydrocarbons, including prospecting, geophysical and geologic seismic surveying and sampling techniques, which include but are not limited to core or rotary drilling or making an excavation in the search and evaluation of natural gas deposits.
B. 
“Natural gas” shall mean any gaseous substance, either combustible or noncombustible, which is produced in a natural state from the earth and which maintains a gaseous or rarified state at standard temperature or pressure conditions, and/or gaseous components or vapors occurring in or derived from petroleum or other hydrocarbons.
C. 
“Natural gas exploration and production wastes” shall mean any garbage, refuse, sludge, or other discarded materials, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material that results from the exploration, drilling or extraction of natural gas.
D. 
No person, firm or corporation shall conduct any exploration for natural gas; drill any well for natural gas; transfer, store, treat, or dispose of natural gas exploration or production wastes; or erect any derrick, building, or other structure or place any machinery or equipment for such purpose within the territorial boundaries of the City of Albany.
E. 
The storage, transfer, treatment and/or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes are hazardous wastes within the meaning of this Code. No person, firm or corporation shall engage in the storage, transfer, treatment and/or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes within territorial boundaries of the City of Albany. No permit issued by any state or federal agency, commission or board to any person, firm or corporation, which would violate the prohibitions of this section, shall be deemed valid within the City of Albany.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Environmental Conservation Law § 23-0101 et seq.