Borough of Bellefonte, PA
Centre County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Bellefonte 11-19-2007 by Ord. No. 110617-01. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Zoning — See Ch. 575.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ACCESSORY STRUCTURE
Identical to the definition of an accessory building contained in the Bellefonte Borough Zoning Ordinance.[1]
ACCESSORY SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM (ASES)
An area of land or other area used for a solar collection system used to capture solar energy, convert it to electrical energy or thermal power and supply electrical or thermal power primarily for on-site use. An accessory solar energy system consists of one or more freestanding ground or roof-mounted solar arrays or solar-related equipment and is intended to primarily reduce on-site consumption of utility power or fuels.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SYSTEMS
Structures, equipment, devices or construction techniques used for the production of heat, light, cooling, electricity or other forms of energy on site and may be attached to or separate from the principal structure.
FREESTANDING OR GROUND-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
A solar energy system that is directly installed in the ground and is not attached or affixed to an existing structure.
HISTORIC PROPERTY
For the purpose of this chapter, a property is considered historic if it:
A. 
Is a contributing property located within one or both of Bellefonte Borough's locally reviewed or nationally designated historic districts; or
B. 
Is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places or by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission;
C. 
Is protected by a historic preservation easement.
PRIMARY FACADE OR ELEVATION
That part(s) of the building which fronts (directly or at an angle) the main roadway(s) serving the building. It will usually contain the main architectural features of the building.
ROOFTOP OR BUILDING-MOUNTED SOLAR SYSTEM
A solar power system in which solar panels are mounted on top of the structure of a roof either as a flush-mounted system or as modules fixed to frames which can be tilted toward the south at an optimal angle.
SOLAR ACCESS
Space open to the sun and clear of overhangs or shade, including the orientation of streets and lots to the sun, so as to permit the use of active and/or passive solar energy systems on individual properties.
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/SYSTEM
Items including a solar photovoltaic cell, module, panel, solar shingle, or array, or solar hot air or water collector device modules, lines, pumps, batteries, mounting brackets, framing and possibly foundations or other structures used for or intended to be used for collection of solar energy to convert solar energy for use in space heating or cooling, water heating, or generating electricity.
A. 
A grouping of multiple solar modules with the purpose of harvesting solar energy.
B. 
The smallest basic solar electric device which generates electricity when exposed to light.
C. 
A grouping of solar cells with the purpose of harvesting solar energy.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 575, Zoning.
A. 
Regulations applicable to all accessory solar energy systems.
(1) 
ASES shall be permitted as a use by right in all zoning districts and shall comply with the Pennsylvania Utility Commission Interconnection Guidelines.
(2) 
Exemptions.
(a) 
Systems generating less than 50 V and that are not tied into either the building wiring or the electrical utility grid are exempt from this chapter.
(b) 
ASES constructed prior to the effective date of this chapter shall not be required to meet the terms and conditions of this chapter. Any physical modification altering the footprint or placement of an existing ASES, whether or not existing prior to the effective date of this chapter, requires the issuance of a zoning permit. Routine maintenance or like-kind and size replacements do not require a permit.
(3) 
ASES installers must certify, upon request by the zoning officer, that they are listed as a certified home improvement contractor with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and have successfully installed a minimum of three ASES systems.
(4) 
All on-site utility, transmission lines, and plumbing shall be placed underground to the extent feasible.
(5) 
The display of advertising is prohibited except for the reasonable identification of the ASES system, such as a nameplate of the manufacturer.
(6) 
With the installation of an ASES, applicants acknowledge that the issuing of said permit for a solar energy system shall not and does not create in the property owner, its, his, her or their successors and assigns in title or create in the property itself:
(a) 
The right to remain free of shadows and/or obstructions to solar energy caused by development of adjoining or other property or the growth of any trees or vegetation on such property; or
(b) 
The right to prohibit the development on or growth of any trees or vegetation on such property.
(7) 
Decommissioning.
(a) 
Each ASES and all solar-related equipment shall be removed within 12 months of the date when the use has been discontinued or abandoned by the system owner and/or operator, or upon termination of the useful life of same.
(b) 
The ASES owner shall, at the request of the Borough, provide adequate information to justify that the system has not been abandoned.
(8) 
Permit requirements.
(a) 
Prior to the installation or modification of any ASES, a zoning permit shall be obtained from the Borough of Bellefonte. Failure to obtain a permit shall constitute a violation of this chapter.
(b) 
Zoning permit applications shall document compliance with this chapter and at a minimum shall be accompanied by drawings showing the location of the system on the building and/or property, including property lines, zoning setbacks, and structures. Permit documents must be kept on the premises where the ASES is constructed.
B. 
Roof-mounted and wall-mounted accessory solar energy systems.
(1) 
A roof-mounted or wall-mounted ASES may be located on a principal or accessory building.
(2) 
ASES mounted on roofs or walls of any building shall be subject to the maximum height regulations specified for principal and accessory buildings within the underlying Zoning District.
(3) 
Wall-mounted ASES shall comply with the setbacks for principal and accessory structures in the underlying zoning district.
(4) 
In all cases, solar modules shall not extend beyond any portion of the roof edge.
C. 
Ground-mounted accessory solar energy systems.
(1) 
Setbacks. The minimum yard setbacks from the side and rear property lines shall be the same as the accessory structure setback in the zoning district.
(a) 
For small ground-mounted units under 225 square feet in ground floor area and not exceeding 10 feet in height, the minimum yard setback for the side and rear property lines shall be the same as that of a small accessory structure setback in the zoning district.
(b) 
For large ground-mounted units between 226 square feet in ground floor area and 1,000 square feet and not exceeding 15 feet in height, the minimum yard setback shall conform to the same standards set forth for accessory structures in the zoning district.
(2) 
Ground-mounted ASES shall not be installed in the front yard of the property as defined by the zoning code of the Borough of Bellefonte.
(3) 
Coverage.
(a) 
The area beneath the ground-mounted ASES, if not otherwise disturbed, is considered pervious cover. However, use of impervious construction materials under the system could cause the area to be considered impervious and subject to the impervious surfaces limitations for the applicable zoning district.
(b) 
The total surface area of the ground-mounted ASES on a residential property shall not exceed more than 15% of the total pervious lot area.
(c) 
The total ground floor area shall not exceed 1,000 square feet.
(4) 
Screening. Mechanical equipment of the ground-mounted ASES shall be screened from any adjacent property. The screen shall consist of shrubbery, trees, or other plant materials which provides a visual screen. In lieu of a planting screen, a decorative fence meeting the requirements of the Borough of Bellefonte Zoning Ordinance[1] may be used.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 575, Zoning.
(5) 
Location limitations. Ground-mounted ASES shall not be placed within any legal easement or right-of-way location or be placed within any storm, water conveyance system or in any other manner that would alter or impede stormwater runoff from collecting in a constructed stormwater conveyance system.
A. 
All solar modules on roof surfaces shall blend in or not be visible from the primary facade or elevation
B. 
All ASES installations shall meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and Standards for Rehabilitation, Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings, and Incorporating Solar Panels in a Rehabilitation Project disseminated by the National Park Service (NPS) and available on their website online.
C. 
All solar installations placed on historic properties shall comply with the Historic District ordinance. Individually designated historic properties not located in the Historic District shall adhere to the same process and limitations.
D. 
If an installed ASES is to be decommissioned per § 478-2A(7) of this chapter and removed from an historic property, application must be made to the Historical Architectural Review Board for the alteration of the historic structure.