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Town of Austerlitz, NY
Columbia County
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A. 
Purpose and intent. The purposes of this section are to regulate the construction of telecommunications towers and related uses consistent with applicable federal and state regulations; to minimize the total number of telecommunications towers in the community by encouraging shared use of existing and future towers; and to minimize the adverse visual effects of towers by requiring careful siting, visual impact assessment and appropriate landscaping in order to protect the natural features, such as ridgelines, vegetation and wetlands, property values and aesthetic character of the Town of Austerlitz. These provisions are not intended to prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services, nor shall they be used to unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services consistent with current federal regulations.
B. 
Applicability. No new telecommunications towers may be built, nor any existing telecommunications towers be modified, except in accordance with this section.
C. 
In addition to the requirements for a special use permit and site plan approval, the applicant shall provide the following information in connection with its application:
(1) 
A site plan that shows all existing and proposed structures and improvements, including antennas, roads, buildings, guy wires and anchors, parking, landscaping and grading plans for new facilities and roads. Any methods used to conceal the modification of an existing facility shall be indicated on the site plan.
(2) 
A tower usage plan which identifies the type of use, level of use and any characteristics of the tower which may affect the surrounding area. The tower usage plan shall also outline construction methods and removal plans in the event that tower usage is discontinued.
(3) 
A map of areas of telecommunications coverage already in place within the Town, demonstrating, through overlay zones, the technological necessity of the proposed tower at the site to provide the type of service.
(4) 
A letter of intent committing the tower owner and his/her successors in interest to notify the Secretary of the Planning Board within 15 days of the discontinuation of use of the tower.
(5) 
A visual impact assessment, which shall include:
(a) 
A zone of visibility map that illustrates the entire area within which the tower will be visible.
(b) 
Pictorial representations of a large balloon or other object fixed at the height and location of the proposed telecommunications tower. The balloon or other object shall be of such size, color and shape as to be visible from all locations within the three-mile radius of the facility site from which the proposed tower will be visible. The photographs shall be taken from a reasonable number of key viewpoints within the Town, specified by the Planning Board (after consultation with the applicant, preferably prior to the filing of the application), including, but not limited to, state highways and other major roads, state and local parks, preserves and historic sites and other locations where the site is visible to a large number of residents, visitors or travelers.
(c) 
Applicants will fly a balloon or other device at the maximum height of the proposed tower for three days prior to the first public hearing and for four days immediately following the first public hearing held on the proposal to aid residents in visualizing the height of the proposed tower.
(6) 
In case of shared use of an existing tower or accessory facility, documentation of permission from the owner of the existing facility to allow shared use.
(7) 
In the case of the shared use, an engineer's report certifying that the proposed shared use will not diminish the structural integrity and safety of the existing tower or accessory structure and explaining what modifications, if any, will be required in order to certify the foregoing.
(8) 
An analysis of the cumulative impact of the proposed facility and other existing foreseeable telecommunications facilities in the area, including technologically feasible mitigating measures.
D. 
Shared use of existing towers. The Town is strongly in favor of minimizing the degradation of the visual environment caused by telecommunications towers. At all times, use of existing towers and existing sites shall be preferable to the construction of a new tower and the development of a new site.
(1) 
In all cases where an application has been made for the construction of a new tower, an applicant shall present an adequate report inventorying existing towers within a reasonable distance of the proposed site and outlining opportunities for shared use of existing facilities and use of other preexisting structures as an alternative to a new construction.
(2) 
In the case of new towers, the applicant shall submit a report demonstrating good faith efforts to secure shared use from existing towers, as well as documentary capacity for future shared use of the proposed tower. Written requests for shared use and the responses thereto shall be provided.
(3) 
An applicant intending to share use of an existing tower shall document approval from an existing tower owner to share use. The applicant shall pay all reasonable fees and costs of adapting an existing tower or structure for a new shared use. Those costs include, but are not limited to, structural reinforcement, preventing transmission or receiver interference, additional site screening, and other changes, including real properly acquisition or lease required to accommodate shared use.
E. 
Shared use of new towers. The applicant shall design all new telecommunications towers in such a way as to accommodate additional demand for reception and transmitting facilities in the future. For all applications for the construction of new towers, the applicant shall submit to the Planning Board a written irrevocable commitment, valid for the duration of the existence of the proposed tower, obligating the owner of the proposed tower and his/her successors in interest to negotiate in good faith for shared use of the proposed tower by other telecommunications providers in the future. This letter shall be filed with the Secretary of the Planning Board prior to any site plan approval. Failure to submit this letter on terms satisfactory to the Planning Board shall be grounds for denial of the approval of the site plan by the Planning Board. The letter shall commit the new tower owner and his/her successors in interest to:
(1) 
Respond within 30 days to a request for information from a potential shared-use applicant.
(2) 
Negotiate in good faith concerning future requests for shared use of the new tower and sites by other telecommunications providers.
(3) 
Allow shared use of the new tower or site if another telecommunications provider agrees in writing to pay reasonable charges. The charges may include, but are not limited to, a pro rata share of the cost of site acquisition, planning, project administration, land costs, site design, construction and maintenance improvement, financing, return on equity and depreciation and all of the costs of adapting the tower or equipment to accommodate a shared user without causing electromagnetic interference.
F. 
New tower design. The design of a new tower shall comply with the following:
(1) 
Any new tower shall be designed to accommodate additional shared use by other telecommunications providers.
(2) 
Unless specifically required by other regulations, a tower shall have a finish (either painted or unpainted) that minimizes visual impact.
(3) 
Accessory structures shall maximize the use of building materials, colors and textures that blend with natural surroundings.
(4) 
New towers shall not exceed the minimum height necessary to provide adequate coverage for the personal wireless service facilities proposed for use on the tower.
(5) 
Unless required by the Federal Aviation Administration, no night-lighting of towers for the personal wireless facilities is permitted, except for manually operated emergency lights for use only when operating personnel are on site. In instances when night-lighting is required, towers shall be equipped only with the minimum lighting required by law and, in which case, such lighting shall be of such type as to minimize glare.
(6) 
No portion of any tower or accessory structure shall be used for advertising purposes. However, each tower must exhibit, at ground level, information as to parties to contact in case of emergency.
G. 
Site requirements. Telecommunications towers and accessory facilities shall be located so as to minimize potential adverse impacts as follows:
(1) 
Safety. Telecommunications towers and accessory facilities shall be located a sufficient distance from adjoining property lines and adjoining structures so as to safeguard against damages from icefall or debris from structural damage.
(2) 
Visual/aesthetic. Towers shall, when possible, be sited where their visual impact is least detrimental to highly rated scenic and historic areas, including ridgelines, properties listed in the State and Federal Register of Historic Places, and scenic roadways.
(3) 
Environmental degradation. Towers shall, when possible, be sited to avoid affecting rare or endangered flora or fauna. They should also be sited, when possible, away from wetland areas.
(4) 
Existing vegetation. Existing on-site vegetation shall be preserved to the maximum extent possible.
(5) 
Screening. Where a site abuts a residential or public property, including streets or roads, screening shall be required. Deciduous or evergreen tree plantings shall be required to screen portions of the tower and accessory structures from nearby residential property, as well as from public sites which include important views or vistas.
(6) 
Roads/access. For all tower sites, the roads or other means of access leading to and from same shall be inspected and approved by the Town Highway Superintendent before any building permit is issued for the construction of the tower. All roads leading to the tower shall be adequate for access for emergency and service vehicles on a year-round basis. Maximum use of existing roads, public or private, shall be made. Road construction shall be consistent with standards for private roads as required by the Town. The road grade shall closely follow the natural contour so as to assure minimal visual disturbance and reduce soil erosion potential.
(7) 
Parking. Parking that assures adequate spaces for emergency and service vehicles shall be provided. The Planning Board shall determine the number of required spaces based upon a recommendation from the applicant.
(8) 
Fencing. The tower and any accessory structure shall be adequately enclosed by a gated fence, the design of which shall be approved by the Planning Board.
H. 
Inspections and tower use reports.
(1) 
Inspections and tower use reports. The Code Enforcement Officer shall be entitled to inspect the telecommunications tower and accessory facilities upon completion of construction and at least one time annually thereafter. The owner/applicant shall deliver to the Planning Board, as a condition to site plan approval hereunder, written permission for access to the facility site and such tower to inspect the tower and determine compliance with the tower usage plan, as well as its structural integrity, at any time.
(2) 
The applicant/operator shall submit to the Planning Board an annual report setting forth the type and frequency of usage of the tower and indicating compliance with the tower usage plan.
I. 
Removal of towers.
(1) 
Prior to being granted site plan approval pursuant to this section, an applicant shall submit to the Planning Board a document, in recordable form, executed by the owner of the property on which the telecommunications tower is to be located, satisfactory to the Planning Board. This document shall commit the owner and his/her successors in interest to independently be responsible for removal of the telecommunications tower and accessory facilities upon the termination of service as hereinafter provided. Said document will also authorize the Town to enter onto the owner's property in the event the tower is not removed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and authorizing the Town to proceed with the removal of the telecommunications towers and accessory facilities. The document will also allow the Town, without further notice to the owner, to remove the tower and accessory facilities, to charge the owner with the reasonable costs of removal, and file a lien against the property of the owner for all of the costs associated with same.
(2) 
Any telecommunications tower which ceases to operate for a period of one year shall be removed. "Cease to operate" is defined as not performing the normal functions associated with operation for a period of one year.
(3) 
In the event the telecommunications tower ceases to operate, the owner of the site shall forthwith notify the Code Enforcement Officer and shall remove said tower and accessory facilities from the site within 60 days. Upon removal of the telecommunications tower and accessory facilities, the owner shall restore the site to its original condition or the standards of the surrounding area at the time of removal, as determined by the Code Enforcement Officer.
(4) 
Failure to notify the Code Enforcement Officer and/or to remove the telecommunications tower and accessory facilities after said tower ceases to operate shall constitute a violation of this section and shall authorize the Town to remove said telecommunications tower and accessory facilities at the owner's sole cost and expense in accordance with the provisions of this section.
J. 
Notification. An applicant proposing a new telecommunications tower shall mail notice of the filing of the application and all public hearings directly to all landowners whose property is located wholly or in part within 500 feet of the property line of the facility site. Notification in all cases shall be made by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 10 days prior to the scheduled Planning Board meeting. Documentation of the foregoing notification shall be submitted to the Planning Board prior to the public hearing.
Applicants proposing signs shall comply with Chapter 70, Advertising Devices, of the Code of the Town of Austerlitz.
Applicants proposing mobile homes or mobile home parks shall comply with Chapter 131, Mobile homes and mobile home parks, of the Code of the Town of Austerlitz.
A. 
Purpose. Land clearing and grading unassociated with an application for subdivision, site plan or special use permit approval has the potential to permanently alter the character of the property and negate the purpose of this chapter and SEQRA.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Art. 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law.
B. 
Applicability. Site plan approval is required for land clearing or grading in excess of one acre in all districts where the property is vacant, without a primary residential or business use.
C. 
Exempt activities. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the following activities:
(1) 
Agricultural uses and practices using more than four acres. Larger clearing is subject to the expedited site plan approval process in Appendix 1.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Appendix 1 is included at the end of this chapter.
(2) 
Construction of any municipal project.
(3) 
Clearing or grading up to four acres on the same lot with an existing residential or business use.
(4) 
Commercial and noncommercial selective cutting for fuel, lumber and other wood products. Clear-cutting of trees in excess of the amounts in this section require site plan approval.
D. 
Review standards.
(1) 
The standards of review and approval in Article VIII, Site Plan Review, of this chapter shall govern review of applications under this section. In addition to any other information that the Planning Board may deem necessary in reviewing the application, the application shall include a clear statement of the intended use of the property and any future development plans.
(2) 
If the applicant proposes a subdivision or other development of the property, an application for subdivision approval, site plan or special use permit for the ultimate development must be included.
(3) 
If the applicant represents that there are no future plans for the subdivision or development of the property, any site plan approval for the clearing and grading shall include a prohibition on the submission of any future application for a subdivision, site plan, special use permit or building permit for a period of five years from the date of the approval for the land clearing.
A. 
Purpose. The Town of Austerlitz recognizes that the timber resources in the Town are a renewable resource of significant value, and their use and responsible management should be encouraged. The Town also recognizes that if timber harvesting practices are poorly carried out, they can result in significant environmental damage to the land, adjacent lands, water quality and public roads. The purpose of this section is to regulate those commercial harvesting activities on private lands and to utilize professional forest management expertise in the preparation of timber harvest plans.
B. 
Requirements.
(1) 
A timber harvest permit (THP) shall be obtained from the Code Enforcement Officer by the landowner or his/her authorized representative desiring to harvest timber on any parcel, or group of parcels under the same ownership, that fells trees whose volume in any consecutive twelve-month period is greater than 30 standard cords of wood or 15,000 board feet of timber. Clear-cutting a parcel shall require site plan approval from the Planning Board pursuant to § 195-24 of this chapter.
(2) 
The commercial timber harvesting operation shall be conducted in accordance with an approved timber harvesting plan. The timber harvesting plan shall be developed by a qualified forester as defined herein.
(3) 
A timber harvesting plan shall contain the following information:
(a) 
Property owner's name, address and phone number; statement of authorization from the owner for any agent making an application.
(b) 
Property location (tax parcel ID, street address).
(c) 
Forest management plan. Qualifying plans include any prepared pursuant to New York State Real Property Tax Law § 480-a or a recognized sustainable forestry certification program, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, Tree Farm, Green Tag, or similar, or a DEC-approved forest stewardship plan. Forest management plans must include the following:
[1] 
Topographical map of the property delineating property boundaries, harvest area, haul and skid roads, landings, access to public roads, watercourses and wetlands.
[2] 
Estimate of harvest volume and anticipated dates of harvest.
[3] 
Best management practices (BMPs) during harvesting in accordance with recommendations in the then-current New York State Timber Harvesting Best Management Practices Guide.
[4] 
Plan preparer's qualifications.
[5] 
Post-harvest BMPs to minimize erosion, sedimentation or pollution of waters from skid trails, haul roads and landings.
C. 
The provisions of this section shall not apply to the sale of wood products resulting from a land-clearing project which has been granted site plan approval.
[Added 5-18-2017 by L.L. No. 1-2017]
A. 
Applicability. The requirements of this section shall apply to all solar energy systems installed or modified after its effective date, excluding general maintenance and repair and building-integrated photovoltaic systems.
B. 
Solar as an accessory use/structure.
(1) 
Roof-mounted solar energy systems.
(a) 
Roof-mounted solar energy systems that use the electricity on site or off site are permitted as an accessory use in all zoning districts of the Town of Austerlitz when attached to any lawfully permitted building or structure.
(b) 
Height. Solar energy systems when mounted to a roof shall not exceed maximum height restrictions within the zoning district it is located in and are provided the same height exemptions granted to building-mounted mechanical devices or equipment.
(c) 
Aesthetics. Roof-mounted solar energy system installations shall incorporate, when feasible, the following design requirements: 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.
(d) 
Roof-mounted solar energy systems that use the energy on site or off site shall be exempt from site plan review under the Town of Austerlitz Zoning Code or other land use regulations.
(e) 
Plans prepared in accordance with the New York State Building Code shall be submitted to the Town Code Enforcement Officer and a permit issued prior to the commencement of installation. All electrical work shall be performed and/or inspected by an electrician licensed in New York State.
(2) 
Ground-mounted solar energy systems.
(a) 
Ground-mounted solar energy systems that use the electricity primarily on site are permitted as accessory structures subject to site plan approval in all zoning districts of the Town of Austerlitz.
(b) 
Height and setback. Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall adhere to the setback requirements of the underlying zoning district in which they are located. In no case shall the structure exceed 25 feet in height when oriented to its maximum height.
(c) 
All such systems are permitted in the side or rear yards of all districts. Systems in front yards are permitted in the Rural Residential District with a minimum setback of 100 feet. Front yard installations are not permitted in the Austerlitz or Spencertown hamlets.
(d) 
All such systems shall be located in such a manner so that the system is adequately screened with respect to neighboring properties so that the views of the system from neighboring properties, particularly residences, or from a public road, are not a significant detraction. The proposed development shall be visually compatible with the character of the community to the extent feasible. Mitigation of visual incompatibility, such as screening, may be required to prevent uses from detracting from adjoining uses. Screening can be accomplished by utilizing existing buildings and vegetation as well as deer resistant evergreen plantings when necessary.
(e) 
In addition to the screening, height and setback requirements listed above, sites to be developed shall be of such character that they can be used for the proposed purposes without danger to the public health or safety, or peril from fire, flood or other causes.
(f) 
Standards. Site development shall comply with the following requirements and with all applicable federal, state and local laws and any road maintenance agreement:
[1] 
Adequate and safe vehicular movement between site and street network.
[2] 
Safe and adequate on-site vehicular movement.
[3] 
Sites should have year-round accessibility, including adequate accessibility for emergency vehicles.
[4] 
Environmentally sensitive areas shall be protected and adverse impacts avoided or mitigated.
[5] 
If applicable, adequate stormwater and drainage facilities, with all drainage conveyance systems designed for a twenty-five-year storm event.
[6] 
Appropriate protection of or mitigation of adverse impacts to adjacent uses, particularly residential uses, through landscaping, vegetative and other screening, buffering, planting and methods of construction.
[7] 
Avoidance or mitigation of dangerous or hazardous activities.
(g) 
The location of ground-mounted systems shall not interfere with adequate parking or with ingress and egress to the property on which it is located. Ground-mounted solar energy systems in all districts must allow room for Fire Company access to all outbuildings. The systems must be at least 20 feet from any existing structures and must not block any existing roadways, lanes or other pathways to outbuildings. The intent of this section is to ensure adequate emergency access.
(h) 
Once site plan approval is received, plans prepared in accordance with the New York State Building Code shall be submitted to the Town Code Enforcement Officer and a permit issued prior to the commencement of installation.
(3) 
Equipment for solar energy systems. Roof-mounted solar energy equipment such as batteries and control panels (except individual on/off switches) shall be installed in such a manner to reduce their visual impact. Ground-mounted solar energy equipment shall be located in outbuildings where feasible or otherwise in such a manner to reduce their visual impact. Electric lines or wires from the system or equipment to buildings should be installed below ground to the extent practicable.
C. 
Large-scale solar systems. Large-scale solar systems are not permitted anywhere in the Town of Austerlitz.
D. 
Enforcement. Any violation of this section shall be subject to the same civil and criminal penalties provided for in the zoning regulations of the Town of Austerlitz.