[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Canastota as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.
[Adopted 5-2-2016 by L.L. No. 2-2016.]
This article shall be known and cited as the "Ground Solar Energy Facilities Moratorium Law of the Village of Canastota, New York."
The Village Board of Trustees hereby finds that without adequate regulations governing the location and placement of ground-mounted solar panel energy arrays, such facilities may have a detrimental impact on neighboring properties and the community in general. Such facilities, if not properly sited, may have adverse visual impacts and have a detrimental effect on the value of other properties, particularly when sited near existing residential neighborhoods or if views from public streets and places are inadequately screened. Presently the Village of Canastota does not specifically regulate the location or placement of such facilities.
The Village desires to study and evaluate the land use impacts of ground-mounted solar panel energy facilities and enact a local law regulating their location and placement in order to preserve and protect the aesthetic and visual resources of, and the property values within, the Village by providing certain regulations and restrictions on the location, size and siting of ground solar energy facilities within the Village, while enabling such facilities to be developed in the interest of promoting the development and use of renewable energy sources.
During the period in which the moratorium established by this article is in effect, the Village will evaluate potential restrictions concerning ground solar facilities that may be necessary or appropriate to so preserve and protect the aesthetic and visual resources of, and the property values within, the Village.
The Village Board further finds that no review of the Village Zoning Code as envisioned by this article has previously occurred, and that such a review is necessary to protect the future health, safety and welfare of present and future residents of the Village of Canastota.
The Board of Trustees of the Village of Canastota hereby adopts this article pursuant to its general zoning authority under Article 7 of the Village Law and its general home rule authority under the Municipal Home Rule Law for the purposes of addressing the potential threat to the public health, safety and welfare described at § 176-2 above.
For purposes of this article, the term ground solar energy facility shall mean: structures, facilities, systems and/or equipment, or any combination thereof, including, but not limited to, solar panels and the hardware with or on which such panels are mounted, the purpose of which is to collect, absorb, concentrate or direct solar energy, which structures, facilities, systems and/or equipment, or any combination thereof, are located, installed, constructed or developed on the ground of a parcel, or on a pad or base substantially on grade with the ground. Ground solar facilities shall not include structures, facilities, systems and/or equipment, or any combination thereof, that are located, installed, constructed or developed on or above the roof of an existing improvement.
The intent of this article is to provide a temporary, interim measure to suspend the development of ground solar energy facilities until such time as the Village has had an opportunity to research the options for regulation of such facilities and to develop, consider and enact a local law establishing regulations for the installation of ground solar energy facilities. It is the intent of the Village Board to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by enacting this interim moratorium law for a reasonable period. During said period, the Village Planning Board, or such other panel or body as may be designated by the Village Board for this purpose shall complete an evaluation and assessment of existing land use plans and regulations for lands within the Village and make recommendations to the Village Board of Trustees as to potential amendments to address the potential threat to the public health, safety and welfare described at § 176-2 above. The Village Board shall thereafter enact necessary modifications to the Village Zoning Code and/or Zoning Map, thereby a race of diligence will be avoided. The Village Board declares that the enactment of this article is necessary to protect the public interest, including the public health, safety and welfare, while such examination and modifications are undertaken.
Except as otherwise provided herein, effective on the effective date of this article, and continuing until one year from the effective date of this article, unless the Village Board, by resolution, establishes an earlier date, no application for a permit, zoning permit, special permit, zoning variance, building permit, operating permit, site plan approval, subdivision approval, certificate of occupancy, certificate of compliance, temporary certificate, or other Village-level approval shall be accepted, processed, approved, approved conditionally, or issued for the construction, establishment, or use or operation of any ground solar energy facility, nor shall any such application be accepted, processed or continue to be processed with respect to any such property located in the Village of Canastota.
The Village Board may, by resolution, extend the moratorium period provided for herein by two additional periods not to exceed 180 days each.
The provisions of this article, and any moratorium (or extension thereof) enacted hereunder, shall supersede in their application to the Village of Canastota any and all contrary provisions of Chapter 230 of the Village Code of the Village of Canastota and of Article 7 of the New York Village Law, including, but not necessarily limited to the provisions of Village Law, Sections 7-706, 7-708, 7-712-a, 7-725-a, 7-725-b and 7-728, and/or any other provisions of Article 7 of the Village Law with respect to any time periods within which the Village or the Planning Board is required to act in regard to any application, and/or with respect to default approval of any such application within such time periods as may be prescribed in said Village Law.
The Village Board shall have the power, by resolution, to exempt or modify the application of any provision of this article with respect to a written request for such exemption or modification, upon its determination, in its absolute legislative discretion, that such exemption or modification is consistent with the spirit of the intended land use regulations upon which this article is based, and with the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of the Village. In evaluating any such request, the Village Board shall take into account the existing land uses near the proposed facility, and in granting any such request, the Village Board shall specifically determine that the proposed ground solar energy facility does not have a significant adverse impact on the character of any existing residential neighborhood, nor have a significantly adverse visual impact from the perspective of any street or public lands. The Village Board shall have absolute discretion in its determination whether to consider or grant any such request.
Upon receiving any such request for such exemption or modification, the Village Board may refer such request, along with the complete project application to which it pertains, to the Village Planning Board for a report of said Planning Board with respect to the effect of the requested exemption or modification upon the intended revisions of the land use regulations. Such report shall be returned by the Planning Board to the Village Board within 30 days of such referral.
Any person, firm, entity, or corporation acting in violation of the provisions of this article shall be guilty of an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 or imprisonment of not more than 15 days, or both. Each day of continuance of an offense shall be considered a separate offense. In addition to such penalties, the Village of Canastota may enforce this article by injunction and/or such other appropriate civil remedies as may be available.