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Caroline County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
A. 
Except as herein provided, no accessory building shall project beyond a required setback line along any County or state road.
B. 
No accessory building shall be erected within any required front yard, except as provided in this chapter.
C. 
Unless otherwise specified in this chapter, accessory buildings or structures less than 750 square feet in floor area may be placed or erected within the side and rear building setback lines but shall be no closer than five feet to the side or rear lot lines.
D. 
Accessory dwellings shall be located on a premises only as specifically provided in this chapter. Accessory dwellings shall be located within the building envelope and comply with all additional setback requirements.
A. 
Fences and walls do not require a zoning certificate and/or building permit.
B. 
Fences and walls are not subject to setback requirements from adjoining lots.
[Amended 8-12-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-1]
C. 
A fence or wall not more than five feet in height may project into or enclose any required front yard. A fence or wall not more than eight feet in height project into or enclose any required side or rear yard.
D. 
All residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs must comply with the barrier requirements located in Appendix G of the International Building Code as adopted under Chapter 88.
[Amended 8-12-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-1]
A. 
Accessory dwelling units shall be limited to one accessory dwelling unit per lot.
B. 
Accessory dwelling units shall be located within the principal dwelling or in an accessory structure. The total habitable area of the accessory dwelling shall be at least 400 square feet and shall not exceed 1,000 square feet. In addition, the total area of the accessory dwelling shall not be larger than 50% of the total area of the principal dwelling.
C. 
Mobile homes shall not be permitted as accessory dwelling units under this section, but may be permitted only in accordance with regulations in Article VIII, Mobile Homes.
D. 
Accessory dwelling units shall be located in a side or rear yard and no closer to the front lot line than the principal dwelling.
E. 
Accessory dwelling units shall be located not more than 100 feet from the principal dwelling if located in a detached accessory structure.
F. 
Accessory dwelling units shall be located within the building envelope and comply with all additional setback requirements.
G. 
Accessory dwelling units shall appear subordinate to the principal dwelling and shall not substantially detract from the single-family residential characteristics of the property by size, location, design or appearance.
H. 
Either the principal dwelling or the accessory dwelling shall be the residence of the property owner.
I. 
Accessory dwelling units shall not have separate water and sewerage facilities from the principal dwelling.
J. 
A site plan and architectural drawing for the accessory dwelling shall be submitted with the application.
K. 
An existing building may be converted to contain or become an accessory dwelling unit only if the existing building is at least five years old.
L. 
Adequate parking for the accessory dwelling and all other uses of the property shall be provided.
M. 
The principal and accessory dwellings shall remain in common ownership and shall not be subdivided from each other.
N. 
Accessory dwelling units shall be permitted if no property owner whose property line is within 500 feet of the applicant's property line objects in writing within 30 days of receiving notice. The Zoning Administrator shall send the notices by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notices shall be directed to the names and addresses as shown on the current real property tax records for Caroline County.
(1) 
If an objection is received, the applicant may apply to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a special use exception within six months of the end of the objection period.
(2) 
If no objections are received, then the applicant must obtain a zoning certificate and/or building permit within one year of the end of the objection period.
A. 
Permitted. Small wind-energy systems shall be permitted in all zoning districts subject to the conditions set forth in this § 175-84.
B. 
Limit. Only one small wind-energy system shall be permitted on a lot or parcel; provided, however, that lots or parcels on which an agricultural or business operation is otherwise permitted (other than home occupation businesses) may have up to two small wind-energy systems.
C. 
Setbacks. All small wind-energy systems shall be set back a minimum distance equal to total height plus 10% of the total height from:
(1) 
Any state, County, or municipal right-of-way, or nearest edge of a state, County, or municipal roadway, whichever is closer to the wind tower;
(2) 
Any right of ingress or egress of another on the small wind-energy system owner's property;
(3) 
Any overhead utility lines;
(4) 
All property lines;
(5) 
Any existing guy wire, anchor, or wind tower on the property; and
(6) 
Any structure used for occupancy, whether transient or otherwise, other than occupancy by the small wind-energy system property owner and such person's family.
(7) 
Exception: Building-supported small wind-energy systems shall comply with the same setback requirements as the structure upon or by which such systems are placed or supported. Any supporting structures for a building supported small wind-energy system shall be placed not more than five feet from the structure.
D. 
Access.
(1) 
All ground-mounted electrical and control equipment shall be labeled and secured to prevent unauthorized access.
(2) 
The wind tower shall be designed and installed so as not to provide step bolts, a ladder, or other means of access for a minimum height of 12 feet.
E. 
Electrical wires. All electrical wires associated with a small wind-energy system, other than 1) wires necessary to connect the wind generator to the wind tower wiring, 2) wind tower wiring to a disconnect junction box; and 3) grounding wires shall be located underground.
F. 
Lighting. A wind tower and a wind generator shall not be artificially lighted unless such lighting is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Lighting of other parts of a small wind-energy system, such as appurtenant structures, shall be limited to that required for safety purposes and shall be shielded from neighboring properties.
G. 
Appearance, color, and finish. The wind generator and the wind tower shall be painted or treated with or in a nonreflective, nonobtrusive color, such as a manufacturer's default color option or a color that conforms to the environment and architecture of the surrounding area (unless otherwise required by the FAA). Color shall be approved by the Director of the Department of Planning and Codes. A small wind-energy system owner may appeal the denial of a requested color to the Board of Zoning Appeals in accordance with this Chapter 175.
[Amended 8-12-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-1]
H. 
Signage. All signage, other than the manufacturer's or installer's label and appropriate warning signs, visible from any public road or adjoining property is prohibited. No advertising shall be allowed on any small wind-energy system.
I. 
Code compliance. All small wind-energy systems shall comply with all applicable provisions of the County's Building and Electrical Codes. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Code of Public Local Laws of Caroline County, Maryland, to the contrary, wind generator blade tips shall at no time be closer to the ground than 15 feet. All small wind-energy systems shall be constructed, assembled, mounted, affixed or otherwise placed in accordance with manufacturer's recommended standards or practices and in compliance with all codes. To the extent that a manufacturer's recommended standards or practices differ from any applicable Code provision, the more strict provision shall apply.
J. 
Public service commission compliance. All small wind-energy systems shall comply with all requirements of the laws of Maryland and Maryland Public Service Commission rules and regulations. Any person seeking to construct a small wind-energy system shall apply to the Maryland Public Service Commission, in addition to applying for any County permit pursuant to this Chapter 175. Utilities to which a small wind-energy system is to be connected shall be notified in accordance with applicable rules, regulations, and tariffs.
K. 
Separation. Except as provided for building-supported small wind-energy systems, small wind-energy systems shall not be attached to any other building or structure, including guy wires.
L. 
Permits. Any person desiring to erect, operate, or maintain a small wind-energy system shall apply for a permit from the Department, and shall submit with such application all material, drawings, specifications, and other information required or requested by the Director of the Department for the purpose of determining compliance with this Chapter 175. Fees for small wind-energy systems shall be determined by the County Commissioners from time to time by resolution.
M. 
Variances. Variances to the provisions of this § 175-84, including setback distances, shall not be permitted.
N. 
Noise. Small wind-energy systems shall comply with all County laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations regarding noise. If no County standards or restrictions are otherwise in effect, noise levels shall not exceed 55 dBA when measured at the property line of any property containing an occupied structure (excluding temporary excessive noise levels due to temporary utility outages and severe thunderstorms).
O. 
A violation of any provision of this § 175-84 shall be a Class A civil infraction under Chapter 92 of the Code of Public Local Laws of Caroline County, Maryland, and shall subject the small wind-energy system owner and the owner of the property on which the small wind-energy system is located to a civil penalty of $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for subsequent violations.
P. 
Abandonment.
(1) 
A small wind-energy system that is out-of-service, or not otherwise used, for a continuous period of 12 months shall be deemed to have been abandoned. The Director shall issue a notice of abandonment to the small wind-energy system owner, who shall then have 30 days to respond to the Director and to provide any information regarding the causes for nonoperation and any remedial or corrective action planned or being undertaken, which actions shall be undertaken and completed in a reasonable time, not to exceed 60 days. If such information is provided and remedial or corrective action is taken, the Director shall withdraw the notice.
(2) 
If a small wind-energy system is determined by the Director to be abandoned, the small wind-energy system owner shall remove the wind generator and the wind tower at such owner's expense within 90 days of the notice or, if later, within 60 days of the termination of any period for remedial or correction action or the failure of such actions. If the small energy system owner shall fail to do so, the County may cause the wind generator and the wind tower to be removed at such owner's expense. The County shall have to right to pursue all legal means of collection of any sums expended, and such sums shall constitute a lien against the property on which the small wind-energy system was located, enforceable and collectible as property taxes.
[Added 8-12-2014 by Ord. No. 2014-1]
A. 
Permitted locations. A solar power plant that complies with the provisions of this section may be permitted as described in § 175-13, Table of Uses.
B. 
Design standards.
(1) 
Minimum lot size. No concentrated solar power plant shall be erected on any lot less than 40 acres in size. No photovoltaic solar power plant shall be erected on any lot less than 10 acres in size.
(2) 
Siting. Considerations should be made to siting such as avoiding areas/locations with a high potential for biological conflict, such as wilderness study areas, areas of environmental concern, County and state parks, historic trails, special management areas or important wildlife habitat or corridors; avoiding visual corridors that are prominent scenic viewsheds, or scenic areas designated by the County; avoiding areas of erodible slopes and soils, where concerns for water quality, severe erosion, or high storm runoff potential have been identified; and avoiding known sensitive historical, cultural or archeological resources.
(3) 
Tree removal. The structures comprising the solar facility shall be constructed and located in a manner so as to minimize the necessity to remove existing trees upon the lot, and in no event shall wooded acreage comprising more than 2% of the deeded acreage of the lot or portion of the lot devoted to the solar facility use be removed without demonstrating that such removal is necessary for the reasonable construction and efficient performance of the use.
(4) 
Setbacks. Solar system structures shall meet the minimum zoning setback for the zoning district in which located, or 25 feet, whichever is greater. In addition, solar power plant structures must be located at least 100 feet from all residentially zoned lots and existing residences. Additional setbacks may be required to mitigate noise and glare impacts, or to provide for designated road or utility corridors.
(5) 
Height. Solar power electric generation structures shall not exceed the height of 15 feet as measured from the grade at the base of the structure to the apex of the structure.
(6) 
Utility connections. Reasonable efforts shall be made to place all utility connections from the solar installation underground, depending on appropriate soil conditions, shape, and topography of the site and any requirements of the utility provider. Electrical transformers for utility interconnections may be above ground if required by the utility provider. All electrical interconnections and distribution components must comply with all applicable codes and public utility requirements.
(7) 
Visibility. Solar systems shall be designed to blend into the architecture of the building or be screened from routine view from public rights-of-way or adjacent residentially zoned property. To the extent reasonably possible, use materials, colors, and textures that will blend the facility into the existing environment.
(8) 
Glare. No solar power plant shall produce glare that would constitute a nuisance to occupants of neighboring properties or persons traveling neighboring roads.
(9) 
Lighting. Lighting of the solar power plant and accessory structures shall be limited to the minimum necessary for safety and operational purposes, and shall be reasonably shielded from abutting properties.
(10) 
Fencing. A secure chain-link fence at least seven feet in height shall enclose the entire solar facility to restrict unauthorized access.
(11) 
Screening. Every abutting property shall be visually screened from the project through any one or combination of the following: location, distance, plantings, existing vegetation or fencing.
C. 
Decommissioning. The solar electricity facility shall be completely decommissioned by the facility owner within 12 months after the end of the useful life, abandonment or termination of such facility. Decommissioning shall include removal of all solar electric systems, buildings, cabling, electrical components, roads, foundations, pilings, and any other associated facilities, so that any agricultural ground upon which the facility was located is again tillable and suitable for agricultural uses. Disturbed earth shall be graded and re-seeded unless the land owner requests in writing that the access roads or other land surface areas not be restored. The owner of the facility shall secure the costs of decommissioning by appropriate bond, letter of credit, or escrow agreement satisfactory to the County and shall include a mechanism for calculating increased removal costs due to inflation. Such estimate costs shall be submitted by the owner and subject to approval by the County prior to issuance of any permits required.
D. 
Signs. The manufacturers' or installers' identification and twenty-four-hour emergency contact phone number shall be provided along with appropriate warning signage, which shall be posted at the site in a clearly visible manner.
E. 
Interconnection agreement. A copy of the interconnection agreement with the local electric utility company must be provided or a written explanation from the utility company outlining why an interconnection agreement is not necessary for the installation of an interconnected customer-owned generator.
F. 
Agreements/easements. If the land on which the project is proposed is to be leased, rather than owned, by the solar energy development company, all property within the project boundary must be included in a recorded easement(s), lease(s) or consent agreement(s) specifying the applicable uses for the duration of the project.
G. 
Public safety. Identify and address any known or suspected potential hazards to adjacent properties, public roadways, communities, aviation, etc., which may be created by the project.
H. 
FAA: must demonstrate compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations pertaining to hazards to air navigation.
I. 
Project rationale. Project rationale, including estimated construction schedule, project life, phasing, and likely buyers or markets for the generated energy must be provided.
J. 
Site and development plans. A site plan drawn at an appropriate scale shall be provided identifying the following:
(1) 
Property lines, setbacks and physical features, including access routes and proposed road improvements;
(2) 
All existing and proposed structures, including impervious surface calculations;
(3) 
Proposed changes to the landscape of the site, grading, vegetation clearing and planting, exterior lighting, and screening vegetation or structures;
(4) 
Blueprints or drawings of the solar installation showing the proposed layout of the system and any potential shading from nearby structures or vegetation;
(5) 
Any existing residential dwellings within 1/4 mile of a photovoltaic solar project or 1/2 mile of a concentrated solar project;
(6) 
Existing utilities and transmission lines, proposed utility lines, and utility and maintenance structures;
(7) 
Existing topographic contours and mapped soils;
(8) 
Existing vegetation (list type and percent of coverage; i.e. grassland, plowed field, wooded areas, etc.);
(9) 
Revegetation areas and methods;
(10) 
Dust and sediment and erosion control;
(11) 
Proposed stormwater management measures;
(12) 
Any floodplains or wetlands; and
(13) 
Fencing details;
(14) 
Total site acreage;
(15) 
Landscape and buffer areas;
(16) 
The number of panels to be installed, the proposed location and spacing of solar panels, and the location of any associated accessory structures;
(17) 
An operation and maintenance plan;
(18) 
Landscape plan.
[Added 6-28-2016 by Ord. No. 2016-1]
A. 
Permitted. Ground-mounted solar power electric generation structures shall be permitted in all zoning districts subject to the conditions set forth in § 175-86.
B. 
Limit. Accessory ground-mounted solar panels shall be limited to producing approximately the annual average electricity needed to support the property. Where a property owner owns multiple parcels, the electricity produced in support of the property may include all parcels (e.g., multiple properties used for agricultural production where one farmer owns or leases multiple parcels, lots, or tracts of land). Supporting documentation shall be provided.
C. 
Site plans. A site plan drawn to scale shall be provided identifying the square footage of panels to be installed, the proposed location and spacing of solar panels, and properties/structures to be served.