Town of Coxsackie, NY
Greene County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Coxsackie 11-13-2018 by L.L. No. 2-2018.[1] Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Wind energy facilities — See Ch. 197.
Zoning  — See Ch. 201.
[1]
Editor's Note: This local law also repealed former Ch. 167, Solar Energy Collection Systems, adopted 6-14-2016 by L.L. No. 1-2016.
A. 
This chapter is adopted pursuant to §§ 261 through 263 of the Town Law of the State of New York which authorizes the Town of Coxsackie to adopt zoning provisions that advance and protect the health, safety and welfare of the community, and pursuant to the New York State Constitution, and New York State Municipal Home Rule Law § l0 and § 20.
B. 
The Code of the Town of Coxsackie Chapter 167 titled "Regulation and Approval Standards for Solar Energy Collection Systems" be and the same hereby is revised and replaced with the following which chapter shall be known and cited as the "Revised Town of Coxsackie Regulation and Approval Standards for Solar Collection Systems."
A. 
The Town of Coxsackie recognizes that solar energy is a clean, readily available, and renewable energy source. It further recognizes that energy generated from solar energy collection systems can be used to offset energy demand on the grid where excess solar power is generated.
B. 
The Town of Coxsackie has determined that revised comprehensive zoning regulations regarding the development of solar energy collection systems are necessary to protect the interests of the Town, its residents, property values, limited farmland and businesses. This chapter aims to accommodate solar energy collection systems while balancing the potential impact on neighbors and preserving the rights of property owners to install solar energy collection systems where such systems are appropriate in light of competing public interests in other existing uses. This chapter is intended to promote the effective and efficient use of solar energy resources; set provisions for the placement, design, construction and operation of such systems in such a way as to be consistent with the Town of Coxsackie Comprehensive Plan; to uphold the public health, safety and welfare; and to ensure that such systems will not have a significant adverse impact on the environment or on the aesthetic qualities and character of the Town and are compatible with the community investment in sewer and water, community character and its desire to preserve and protect areas of economic and agricultural significance to the Town.
C. 
It is not intended by this chapter to abrogate or impair existing conditions previously made or permits previously issued relating to the use of buildings. Whenever this chapter imposes a greater restriction upon the use of buildings or premises than is required by existing provisions of law, ordinance or regulations, the provisions of this chapter shall control. More restriction is intended.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in th.is article shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
DECOMMISSIONING PLAN
Detailed steps to remove unused or inactive solar energy systems, the elimination of all safety hazards, the remediation of the site, cost estimates to accomplish these requirements, and the provisions of financial security therefor.
EXPEDITED PROCESS
The application, review and approval process for rooftop and flush-mounted solar energy collection system with a rated capacity of 25 kW or less, as set forth in § 167-4B and C of this chapter.
FLUSH-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY COLLECTORS
A rooftop-mounted solar energy system with solar panels which are installed flush to the surface of a roof and which cannot be angled or raised.
GROUND-MOUNTED RACKS AND FREESTANDING SOLAR ENERGY COLLECTORS
A solar energy collection system that is anchored to the ground either directly or attached to a pole or other mounting system, detached from any other structure.
NET-METERING
A billing arrangement that allows solar customers to receive credit for excess electricity which is generated from the customer's solar collection and delivered back to the grid so that customers only pay for their net electricity usage for the applicable billing period.
PRIME FARMLAND
Land designated as "prime farmland" in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service's Soil Survey Geographic Database that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber and other crops and is available for these land uses.
QUALIFIED SOLAR INSTALLER
A person who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of solar energy systems (and the components thereof) and installations and has received safety training on the hazards involved. Persons who are on the list of eligible photovoltaic installers maintained by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), or who are certified as a solar installer by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), shall be deemed to be qualified solar installers for the purposes of this definition. Persons who are not on NYSERDA's list of eligible installers or NABCEP's list of certified installers may be deemed to be qualified solar installers if the Town Code Enforcement Officer or such other Town officer or employee as the Town Board designates determines such persons have had adequate training to determine the degree and extent of the hazard and the personal protective equipment and job planning necessary to perform the installation safely. Such training shall include the proper use of special precautionary techniques and personal protective equipment, as well as the skills and techniques necessary to distinguish exposed energized parts from other parts of electrical equipment and to determine the nominal voltage of exposed live parts.
ROOFTOP-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY COLLECTORS
A solar energy system in which solar collectors/panels are mounted on the roof of a building or structure either as a flush-mounted system or as panels fixed to frames which can be tilted to maximize solar collection.
SMALL-SCALE SOLAR COLLECTOR SYSTEM
Any solar energy collection system that cumulatively on a parcel meets all of the following provisions:
A. 
Is an accessory use or structure, designed and intended to generate energy primarily for a principal use, located on that lot.
B. 
Produces more than 25 kW of energy, and is a solar-thermal system which serves only the buildings to which it is attached and/or accessory to and does not provide energy for any other buildings or structures beyond the parcel or lot.
C. 
A system that does not exceed the production or output limits and otherwise conforms to the requirements of this paragraph shall not be excluded from designation as a small-scale solar collection system as a result of selling or otherwise receiving credits or benefits for excess energy provided to the distribution grid under a net metering agreement.
SOLAR ENERGY COLLECTION SYSTEM
A system of components intended for the collection, inversion, storage and/or distribution of solar energy and that directly or indirectly generates thermal, chemical, electrical or other usable energy. A solar energy collection system consists of, but is not limited to, solar collectors, mounting devices or structures, generators/turbines, water and energy storage and distribution systems, storage, maintenance and/or other accessory buildings, inverters, fans, combiner boxes, meters, transformers and all other mechanical structures.
SOLAR LOT COVERAGE
Area of solar panels and any appurtenances.
SOLAR LOT (UTILITY SCALE)
One or more contiguous parcels under direct control (ownership or lease) of a common owner.
UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR COLLECTOR SYSTEM
A solar energy collector or collectors or other devices or a generation facility or area of land principally used to convert solar energy to electricity, whether by photovoltaics, concentrating solar-thermal devices or various experimental solar technologies, designed and intended to supply energy primarily into a utility grid for sale to the general public or to supply multiple users located off the site on which the energy system is located.
A. 
Applicability.
(1) 
Rooftop and flush-mounted solar collector system with a rated capacity of 25 kW or less are permitted in all zoning districts within the Town and may utilize the expedited solar permitting process.
(2) 
Ground-mounted and freestanding solar energy collector systems with a rated capacity of 25 kW or less are permitted in all zoning districts within the Town, except the High Density Residential 1 (HDR-1) and High Density Residential 2 (HDR-2) districts, upon the issuance of a special use permit in accordance with § 167-5 of this chapter. These systems shall be subject to all the requirements set forth in § 167-5C(2) of this chapter. Ground-mounted and freestanding systems may not utilize the expedited solar permitting process.
B. 
Purpose and intent.
(1) 
The expedited solar permitting process uses a unified permit across participating municipalities in New York State. A combined building and electrical permit for a grid-tied solar electric system will be issued pending proper completion of forms, submission of approved plans and approval by municipality.
(2) 
The expedited solar permitting process shall be applicable to all rooftop and flush-mounted small solar collector systems with a rated capacity of 25 kW or less, whether intended for personal use or commercial use, provided the system is intended to generate energy primarily for a principal use or structure located on that lot.
C. 
Application, review and permitting for systems qualifying for the expedited permitting process.
(1) 
Items to be submitted.
(a) 
Unified solar permit for small-scale solar electric systems and an eligibility checklist; and
(b) 
A set of plans which must include the project address. section, block and lot number of the property and the owner's name, address and phone number and the name, address and phone number of the person preparing the plans;
(c) 
A site plan showing location of major components of solar system and other equipment on roof or legal accessory structure. This plan should represent relative location of components at site, including, but not limited to, location of solar panel array, existing electrical service location, utility meter, inverter location, system orientation and tilt angle. This plan should show access and pathways that are compliant with New York State Fire Code, if applicable.
(d) 
One-line or three-line electrical diagram detailing the installation and associated components which shall include:
[1] 
Specification sheets for all manufactured components. If these sheets are available electronically, a web address will be accepted in place of an attachment at the discretion of the Code Enforcement Officer.
[2] 
All diagrams and plans must be prepared by a PE or RA as required by New York State law and include the system capacity in kW-DC.
(2) 
Upon receipt and verification of each of the above items, the Code Enforcement Officer shall issue a building permit for the construction and completion of the rooftop or flush-mounted solar collection system.
A. 
Purpose and intent.
(1) 
The purpose of these regulations is to balance the potential impact on neighbors where solar collectors may be installed near their property while preserving the rights of property owners to install solar collection systems without excess regulation. These regulations are not intended to override the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.
(2) 
Solar energy is a renewable and nonpolluting energy resource that can prevent fossil fuel emissions and reduce energy load. Energy generated from solar energy systems can be used to offset energy demand on the grid when excess solar power is generated.
B. 
Applicability.
(1) 
The requirements herein shall apply to small-scale solar collector system installations modified or installed after the effective date of this section with a rated capacity of greater than 25 kW, and all ground-mounted and freestanding systems with a capacity up to 25 kW.
(2) 
Solar collector system installations for which a valid building permit has been properly issued, or for which installation has commenced before the effective date of this section, shall not be required to meet the requirements of this section, except in accordance with safety provisions found in this section. Any modification, expansion or alteration to an existing solar collector system shall only be permitted in accordance with §§ 201-70 and 201-71 of the Town of Coxsackie Zoning Law.
C. 
Permitting.
(1) 
Rooftop and flush-mounted solar collectors. Rooftop and flush-mounted solar collectors are permitted in all zoning districts in the Town of Coxsackie subject to the following requirements:
(a) 
Building permits shall be required for installation of all rooftop and flush-mounted solar collectors.
(b) 
Height limitations for structures found in this zoning law, shall apply.
(c) 
Rooftop and flush-mounted solar collector systems are permitted on the following structures:
[1] 
All principal structures.
[2] 
All accessory structures that meet the principal structure setbacks as required in each zoning district.
(d) 
Rooftop units must be three feet from any chimney and shall not be permitted on any roof overhangs.
(e) 
Any solar collector system attached to a pitched roof shall not extend more than three feet from the surface of the angle of the roof.
(2) 
Ground-mounted and freestanding solar collectors. Ground-mounted racks and freestanding solar collectors are permitted as an accessory structure in all zoning districts in the Town of Coxsackie, except the High Density Residential 1 (HDR-1), High Density Residential 2 (HDR-2) and the Waterfront Residential (WR) districts, subject to the following requirements:
(a) 
Site plan review and a special use permit from the Planning Board are required for all ground-mounted racks and freestanding solar energy collectors.
(b) 
All ground-mounted racks and freestanding solar collectors shall have a maximum height of 15 feet from ground elevation.
(c) 
All ground-mounted racks and freestanding solar collectors installed in the side or rear yards shall comply with, at a minimum, the setback requirements for a principal structure for that zoning district.
(d) 
Solar collectors shall not be permitted in any front yard.
(e) 
Solar collectors shall be located in a manner that no shading of adjacent property occurs and no shading occurs at the property line.
(f) 
Ground-mounted solar energy collectors shall comply with the most restrictive setback, area, yard and bulk regulations in each applicable zoning district provided in the Zoning Law of the Town of Coxsackie in which such system is constructed.
(g) 
Setback. Further setbacks and bulk restrictions may be required by the Planning Board as part of the site plan review and as a condition of approval in addition to those set forth in this chapter in order to protect the public's safety, health and welfare.
(h) 
Ground-mounted solar energy collectors shall be .screened from adjoining lots and street rights-of-way through the use of architectural features, earth berms, landscaping, fencing or other screening which will harmonize with the character of the property and the surrounding area.
(i) 
The ground-mounted solar energy collectors shall be located in a manner to reasonably minimize view blockage for surrounding properties.
(j) 
Neither the ground-mounted solar energy system, nor any component thereof, shall be sited within any required buffer area.
(3) 
General requirements applicable to small scale rooftop-mounted and ground-mounted solar energy systems.
(a) 
All solar collector installations must be performed by a qualified solar installer and designed, erected and installed in accordance with applicable codes, regulations and industry standards.
(b) 
Solar energy systems shall be permitted only to provide power for use by owners, lessees, tenants, residents or other occupants of the premises on which they are erected, but nothing contained in this provision shall be construed to prohibit the sale of excess power through a net metering arrangement in accordance with New York Public Service Law § 66-j or similar state or federal statute. However, solar energy system applications in a residential setting and serving a residential use on a single parcel or lot shall be limited to 25 kW or less.
(c) 
Prior to operation, electrical connections must be inspected by a Town Code Enforcement Officer and by an appropriate electrical inspection person or agency, as determined by the Town.
(d) 
Any connection to the public utility grid must be inspected by the appropriate public utility and proof of inspection shall be provided to the Town.
(e) 
Solar energy collection systems shall be maintained in good working order.
(f) 
Solar energy collection systems, including all substations, switch yards and interconnects, shall be permitted only if they are determined by the Town to be consistent in size and use with the character of surrounding neighborhood.
(g) 
Solar energy collection systems shall be permitted only if they are determined by the Town not to present any unreasonable safety risks, including, but not limited to:
[1] 
Weight load;
[2] 
Wind resistance; and
[3] 
Ingress or egress in the event of fire or other emergency.
(h) 
All solar energy collection systems described in this chapter shall meet and comply with all relevant and applicable provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Standards and applicable electrical codes. To the extent the provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and applicable electrical codes are more restrictive than the provisions set forth in this chapter, the provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code and applicable electrical codes shall control and the provisions contained herein shall be deemed to be installation guidelines only.
(i) 
All utility services and electrical wiring/lines shall be placed underground and otherwise be placed within the walls or unobtrusive conduit. Conduits or feeds which are laid on the roof shall be camouflaged to blend in with the roof to reduce aesthetically objectionable impacts. Feeds to the inverter shall run within the building and penetrate the roof at the solar panel location.
(j) 
If a solar energy collection system ceases to perform its originally intended function for more than 12 consecutive months, the solar energy collection system shall be deemed abandoned and the property owner shall notify the Town of Coxsackie Code Enforcement Officer of the system's abandonment. Upon abandonment, the property owner shall completely remove the system, mount and all other associated equipment and components by no later than 90 days after the end of the twelve-month period or within 30 days of written notice from the Town. The Building Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer and/or Town Engineer shall have the right, at any reasonable time, to enter, in the company of the owner or his agent, to ensure that the solar energy collection system remains operational.
(k) 
Solar energy systems and their components shall be accessible by emergency services vehicles and personnel.
(l) 
To the extent practicable, solar energy collection systems shall have neutral paint colors, materials and textures to achieve visual harmony with the surrounding area.
(m) 
The design, construction, operation and maintenance of the solar energy system shall prevent the direction, misdirection and/or reflection of solar rays onto neighboring properties, public roads, public parks and public buildings.
(n) 
Marking of equipment.
[1] 
Solar energy collection systems and components shall be marked in order to provide emergency responders with appropriate warning and guidance with respect to isolating the solar electric system. Materials used for marking shall be weather resistant. For residential applications, the marking may be placed within the main service disconnect. If the main service disconnect is operable with the service panel closed, then the marking should be placed on the outside cover.
[2] 
In the event any of the standards in this section for markings are more stringent than applicable provisions of the New York State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, they shall be deemed to be guidelines only and the standards of the State Code shall apply.
(o) 
If solar storage batteries are included, they must be placed in a secure container or enclosure meeting the requirements of the New York State Building Code when in use. When they are no longer in use, they shall be removed and either recycled or disposed of in accordance with the laws of New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code and local laws of the Town of Coxsackie and any other applicable laws or regulations.
(p) 
In order to ensure firefighter and other emergency responder safety, there shall be a minimum perimeter area, not covered by any solar equipment, of 36 inches around the edge of the roof and adjacent to transitions, which include vertical walls, dormers, valleys, chimneys, vents and other protrusions, irregularities, or changes in contour to provide space on the roof for walking around all solar collectors and panels. For ground-mounted units, there shall be a minimum horizontal clearance of 48 inches between array rows.
A. 
Purpose and intent.
(1) 
The purpose of these regulations is to provide utility-scale solar collector systems through performance criteria that balance the unique characteristics of each site. In regulating utility-scale collector systems, the Town has considered the compatibility of utility-scale solar collector systems with the Town's comprehensive plan and the character and aesthetic qualities of the community. The Town has also considered, the long-term effects of these systems on property values and property use, the visual impact on the community, the need to preserve open space and limited farmland as these systems remove large tracts of land from service considering the long-term nature of the use and the process of decommissioning and the difficulty of restoring the land to an alternative use after decommissioning.
B. 
Applicability.
(1) 
Utility-scale solar collector systems shall be a permitted use in the Commercial (C) District and the Industrial (I) District in the Town of Coxsackie, subject to the issuance of a special use permit and site plan approval by the Planning Board and the other requirements as set forth herein.
(2) 
Except as stated in Subsection B(1) of this section, utility-scale solar collection systems shall be prohibited in all other zoning districts within the Town.
(3) 
Property utilized for utility-scale solar collection systems shall have a single principal use, which shall be solar collectors and appurtenances.
(4) 
In any instances where specific permitted uses, area, or height standards, development guidelines and/or review procedures specifically set forth in this section conflict with any other general provision or requirements of the Zoning Chapter, the particular provisions set forth herein shall take precedence and control.
(5) 
A utility-scale solar collector system may occupy up to 20% of the area of the solar lot. The lot coverage shall be deemed to include all land under or between any system components within the general perimeter of the system as a whole, but shall not include the area within the buffer between the system components and the surrounding security fencing. The Planning Board may waive the maximum lot coverage area of 20% up to a maximum of 50% of the area of the solar lot if the project sponsor can show that increasing the lot coverage will actually result in less environmental or visual impacts. The determination as to whether a waiver is justified lies solely in the Planning Board.
(6) 
Utility-scale solar collector systems shall not be considered a public utility as defined in § 201-91 of the Town Code.
C. 
Permitting.
(1) 
Special use permit required. No utility-scale solar energy collection system shall be permitted except upon obtaining a special use permit in accordance with the procedure and standards for special use permits set out in Article XI of the Town of Coxsackie Zoning Law.[1] In addition to such standards, issuance of a special use permit shall be contingent upon site plan review and satisfaction of standards set forth hereafter in this chapter.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 201, Zoning.
(2) 
Site plan review required. Every application for a utility-scale solar energy collection system shall be subject to site plan review and approval, in accordance with Article X of the Zoning Law regardless of whether the proposed utility-scale solar energy collection system exceeds any threshold for site plan review which is otherwise stated in such chapter. In conducting site plan review for a utility-scale solar energy system, the Planning Board may waive submissions that, in the Planning Board's judgment, are inapplicable or are not relevant to the review of the proposed solar system.
(3) 
All applications for site plan and special use permit review for utility-scale solar energy collection systems shall include the following:
(a) 
Plans and drawings of the utility-scale solar energy system installation signed by a professional engineer registered in New York State showing the proposed layout of the entire utility-scale solar energy system along with a description of all components, whether on site or off site, existing vegetation and proposed clearing and grading of all sites involved. Clearing and/or grading activities are subject to review by the Planning Board and shall not commence until the issuance of site plan approval, and the special use permit.
(b) 
Plan for clearing and/or grading of the site.
(c) 
An electrical diagram detailing the utility-scale solar energy system installation, associated components and electrical interconnection methods, with all disconnects and over-current devices identified.
(d) 
Access. The applicant shall indicate on a site plan all existing and proposed access to the site, including road, electric power, emergency access, land-based telephone line connection, and other utilities existing and proposed within the property boundaries of the proposed location. Existing roadways shall be used for access to the site whenever possible and determined acceptable by the Planning Board through site plan review.
(e) 
A stormwater pollution prevention plan per New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requirements to detail stormwater runoff management and erosion control plans for the site.
(f) 
Photo simulations shall be included showing the proposed utility-scale solar energy system in relation to the building/site along the elevation views and dimensions and manufacturer's specs and photos of the proposed utility-scale solar energy system, solar collectors and all other components.
(g) 
Noise. Details of the proposed noise that may be generated by inverter fans. The Planning Board shall require a noise analysis to determine potential adverse noise impacts. Noise-producing equipment shall be sited and/or insulated to minimize noise impacts on adjacent properties as approved by the Planning Board during site plan review.
(h) 
Statement co-signed by the applicant and the landowner that the establishment of the proposed utility-scale solar energy system shall not result in a tax penalty, pursuant to § 305 or 306 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, due to the conversion of land to a nonagricultural use, which shall also states the last year, if any, for which the subject lands received an agricultural real property tax exemption, or that the establishment of the proposed utility-scale solar energy system may result in a tax penalty, pursuant to § 305 or 306 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, along with a statement indicating the most recent year, if any, for which the subject lands received an agricultural real property tax exemption, which shall also include a statement of the number of acres to be converted from an agricultural to a nonagricultural use and an estimate of the total amount of tax penalty to be imposed, including interest. In the case of an application for a utility-scale solar collector system to be located on private lands owned by a party other than the applicant a copy of the lease agreement with the property owner shall be filed with the Building Department.
(i) 
Part I of the full environmental assessment form (FEAF) filled out.
(j) 
Identification. Identification and contact information of the responsible party to be notified in the event of emergency or for any other reason, including the address for notices of the utility-scale solar energy system owner/operator or designated party to receive notice in the event of decommissioning and removal of the energy system. If the part to receive notices or the address thereof changes at any time, the applicant is required to notify the Town Clerk, in writing of such change. This shall be a condition of any permit issued.
(k) 
Costs. The Town of Coxsackie shall require any applicant to pay all associated costs for any application review, including but not limited to, engineering, legal, environmental, planning and the review required under this chapter or under SEQRA. When the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals determines that a review is anticipated to require engineering, legal, environmental or planning costs, they shall provide an estimate to the applicant. Subsequently, funds adequate to cover such estimated costs shall be placed into escrow by the applicant prior to commencement of any further Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals review, and shall be replenished or increased at the direction of either of such boards.
(l) 
Proof of insurance. The applicant and the owners of the property where the utility-scale solar collector system is to be located shall file with the Building Department proof of insurance in a sufficient dollar amount to cover potential personal and property damage associated with construction and operation thereof as determined by the Planning Board.
(m) 
Utilities. The applicant shall provide 'Written confirmation that the electric grid has the capacity to support the energy generated from the utility-solar collector system.
(n) 
Plan for post-construction maintenance of grounds and structures and town roadways.
(o) 
Decommissioning plan.
(4) 
General provisions on site plan review. In addition to the requirements and standards set out elsewhere in the Zoning Law of the Town of Coxsackie, every site plan review of a utility-scale solar energy collection system shall include a public hearing and site plan approval shall be subject to conformance to the following:
(a) 
All utility-scale solar energy systems shall adhere to all applicable Town of Coxsackie building, plumbing, electrical and fire codes.
(b) 
There shall be a minimum 100-foot buffer between any component of the utility-scale solar energy system and each solar lot boundary line. The Planning Board is authorized to increase the width of this buffer, in its discretion, after analysis of site conditions and adjacent land uses.
(c) 
No component of any utility-scale solar energy system may be located within 150 feet of any roadway, other than a private service road used solely for access to the site of such energy system.
(d) 
Security provisions. Each site shall have an eight-foot security fence to prevent unauthorized access and vandalism to the utility-scale solar collectors and a security program for the site as approved by the Planning Board during site plan review. The height of the security fence may be adjusted by the Planning Board considering visual impact upon neighboring properties.
(e) 
There shall be created and maintained within the security fence, and between such fence and the components, structures, or fixtures of the solar energy system, a clear and unobstructed buffer area at least 25 feet in width encircling the entire perimeter of the facility, with a surface and grade suitable for the safe passage of fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
(f) 
Lands which have the highest ecological values as evidenced by large, contiguous areas of forest, undisturbed drainage areas, wetlands or New York State Department of Environmental Conservation identified critical habitats or rare plant and animal populations shall be avoided.
(g) 
Development and operation of the system shall not have a significant adverse impact on fish, wildlife or plant species or their critical habitats or other significant habitats identified by the Town of Coxsackie or other federal or state regulatory agencies.
(h) 
Previously cleared or disturbed areas are preferred locations for solar panel arrays. The clearing of additional lands to accommodate a proposed utility-scale solar energy system may be permitted, provided the percentage of newly cleared land on any solar lot does not exceed 10% of the existing woodlands on that solar lot.
(i) 
Arrays shall be located on a solar lot in such a manner as to avoid, to the maximum extent feasible, soils classified as prime farmland by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York State or the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
(j) 
Native grasses and native vegetation, preferably pollinator friendly, shall be maintained below the arrays.
(k) 
Visual. Utility-scale solar collector systems shall be sited in a manner to have the least possible practical visual effect on the environment. The landscaping plan shall include visual assessment report, including appropriate modeling and simulations and photography assessing the visibility from key viewpoints including existing tree lines, surrounding topography, and proposed elevations shall be required.
(l) 
Landscaping, screening and/or earth berming shall be provided to minimize the potential visual impacts associated with the utility-scale solar collector systems and its accessory buildings, structures and/or equipment. Additional landscaping, screening and/or earth berming may be required by the Town Board and/or the Planning Board to mitigate visual and aesthetic impacts.
(m) 
Any associated structure shall be screened, placed underground, depressed, earth bermed or sited below a higher topographic grade or the ridge line to the greatest extent feasible, particularly in areas of high visibility.
(n) 
The utility-scale solar energy collection system, including any associated fencing or proposed off-site infrastructure, shall be located and screened in such a way as to avoid or minimize visual impacts as viewed from:
[1] 
Publicly dedicated parks, roads and highways;
[2] 
Existing residential dwellings located on contiguous parcels.
(o) 
Glare and heat. No unreasonable glare or heat shall be produced that is perceptible beyond the boundaries of the lot on which such use is situated. The design, construction, operation and maintenance of any utility-scale solar energy system shall prevent the misdirection and/or reflection of solar rays onto neighboring properties, public roads and public parks in excess of that which already exists.
(p) 
All structures and devices used to support solar collectors shall be nonreflective and/or painted a subtle or earth-tone color to aid in blending the facility into the existing environment.
(q) 
All transmission lines and wiring associated with a utility-scale solar energy system, including phone, shall be buried and include necessary encasements in accordance with the National Electric Code and Town of Coxsackie requirements. The applicant is required to show the locations of all proposed electric utility lines, including substations and junction boxes and other electrical components for the project on the site plan. All transmission lines and electrical wiring shall be in compliance with the utility company's requirements for interconnection.
(r) 
Lighting. A lighting plan shall be required. No utility-scale solar collector system shall be artificially lighted unless otherwise required by federal, state or local law. Exterior lighting may be provided for associated accessory structures and access entrances as may be determined appropriate for security or emergency services purposes only.
(s) 
Any signage used to advertise the utility-scale solar energy system shall be in accordance with the Town of Coxsackie's signage regulations. The manufacturers or installer's identification and appropriate warning signage shall be posted at the site and clearly visible.
(t) 
The height of the solar panel arrays shall not exceed 15 feet and no part of any system structure or equipment shall exceed 15 feet in height, when oriented at maximum height.
(u) 
Following construction of a utility-scale ground-mounted solar energy system, all disturbed areas where soil has been exposed shall be reseeded with native grass and/or planted with low-level native vegetation capable of preventing soil erosion and airborne dust.
(v) 
The applicant will be required to enter into a road maintenance agreement with the Town in the event Town roads are utilized during the construction or installation of the system. At the applicant's expense, an engineer shall determine the baseline condition of the Town roads prior to commencement of installation and the condition at the end of construction. The Town intends that the applicant shall be responsible for Town road restoration in the event the road condition is less than the baseline condition established for the road affected.
D. 
Requirements after approvals.
(1) 
Any post-construction changes or alterations to the utility-scale solar energy system shall be done by amendment to the special use permit and site plan review and approval, with public hearing and subject to the requirements of this chapter.
(2) 
After completion of a utility-scale solar energy system, the applicant shall provide a post-construction certification from a professional engineer registered in New York State that the project complies with applicable codes and industry practices and has been constructed and is operating according to the approved plans. The applicant shall further provide certification from the utility that the facility has been inspected and connected.
(3) 
After completion the applicant shall restore the Town roads, as required under the road maintenance agreement, to the condition prior to construction.
(4) 
Documentation from the utility company, verifying that the utility-scale solar collector system is active, shall be provided annually to the Town of Coxsackie Building Department.
(5) 
Maintenance of the site and in particular the landscaping, berming and fencing in accordance with the post-construction maintenance agreement.
E. 
Required sureties/insurance for construction, maintenance and removal of utility-scaled solar collector systems and indemnification.
(1) 
Construction and maintenance. Prior to the issuance of a special use permit for the utility-scale solar collector system and any associated accessory structures, the applicant shall post a financial security in an amount and form acceptable to the Town for the purposes of construction and maintenance. The amount shall be up to 50% of the construction value. Acceptable forms shall include, in order of preference: cash; letter of credit; a bond that cannot expire; or a combination thereof. Such financial security will be used to guarantee compliance with the conditions of the approval for the utility-scale solar collector. If the owner of the site fails to comply with any conditions of the approval during construction or as part of the long-term maintenance of the site, all costs of the Town incurred to comply with conditions of the approval shall be paid using the:financial security provided by the applicant. Failure to comply with the conditions of the approval or to maintain an acceptable level of financial security will result in revocation of the special use permit and/or certificate of occupancy.
(2) 
Indemnification. The applicant, owner, and operator of the utility-scale solar energy collection system shall release and hold harmless the Town of Coxsackie and all of its officers, officials, employees, appointees, agents, and servants from and against any and all liability and responsibility for any and all accidents, injuries and/or damages of any kind to persons (including death) or property arising out of the installation, construction, operation, maintenance, repair or removal of such system. The applicant, owner and operator shall indemnify and hold harmless the Town of Coxsackie and its officers, officials, employees, appointees, agents and servants from any and all claims, suits, actions, damages, awards, judgments and costs of every nature, including reasonable attorneys' fees, arising out of the installation, construction, operation, maintenance, repair or removal of such system.
(3) 
Insurance. The operator of a utility-scale solar energy collection system shall obtain and maintain insurance, issued by an insurer authorized to do business in New York State, to the specifications and in an amount approved by the Planning Board. Such insurance shall name the Town of Coxsackie as an additional insured party. The certificate of insurance shall contain a provision that coverage afforded under the applicable policy shall not be cancelled or terminated until at least 30 days prior notice has been provided to the Town. In the event of a termination, cancellation, or lapse of the required insurance coverage, the special use permit to operate the energy system shall be immediately suspended and operation of the system shall cease. Upon restoration of the required insurance coverage, to the satisfaction of the Town, permission to operate may be restored.
F. 
Abandonment or decommissioning of utility-scale solar energy systems.
(1) 
To ensure the proper removal of utility-scale energy systems, a decommissioning plan shall be submitted as part of the special use application. Compliance with this plan shall be made a condition of the issuance of a special use permit under this section. The decommissioning plan applies to the applicant and to any subsequent owner or operator of the subject parcel or solar energy facility or their successors. A cost estimate detailing the projected cost of executing the decommissioning plan shall be prepared by a professional engineer or contractor. Cost estimates shall take into account inflation. Removal of utility-scale solar energy systems must be completed in accordance with the decommissioning plan.
(2) 
A utility-scale solar energy system which has been inactive for a period of one year shall be decommissioned and removed at the owner/landowner, applicant or operator's expense, and the site remediated within 120 days. This obligation shall be binding upon the applicant's, owner's, landowner's and/or operator's successors and/or assigns. Upon such failure to either maintain operation or decommission the system as provided for herein, the special use permit and/or certificate of occupancy issued in relation to such system or facility shall terminate. Decommissioning and remediation shall include removal of the energy system and all its components, associated structures, fixtures, equipment, fencing and other improvements, including any subsurface wires, footings or other elements from the parcel. Any access roads created for building or maintaining the system shall also be removed and replanted with vegetation. The site terrain shall be restored and regraded, if necessary to a condition generally comparable to its original condition and replanted with native vegetation.
(3) 
All safety hazards created by the installation and operation of the utility-scale solar energy system shall be eliminated and the site remediated within six months of the removal of the utility-scale solar energy system.
(4) 
Prior to the issuance of any permits, the Planning Board will require the applicant to submit a performance/removal bond or other financial security, as directed by and satisfactory to the Planning Board, upon advice of the Town's attorney, engineer or other professional experts, based upon the decommissioning cost estimate in an amount satisfactory to the Town of Coxsackie, to ensure the removal of the system, its components and associated structures, fixtures, equipment, fencing or other improvements and the remediation of the site the bond or financial security shall not expire. Such financial security will be used to guarantee removal of the utility-scale solar collector system should the system be abandoned. In the event that the utility-scale solar energy system is not removed within one year of becoming inactive or the site is not remediated and restored to a condition approved by the Planning Board, the Town of Coxsackie, by resolution of the Town Board after 30 days' written notice and opportunity of the landowner and system operator to be heard, may cause the same to be removed and the site remediated using the financial security. Notice sent by first class U.S. mail to the property owner, as reflected in the Town real property records, to the mailing address set forth therein, and to the energy system owner/operator, at the address for notice set forth in the application, as may be amended or superseded by written notice to the Town Clerk, shall be sufficient notice. Abandonment shall be assumed by the Town if the annual documentation as required in Subsection D(4) above, is not provided by the owner, applicant or lessee for one year. If the owner, applicant or lessee fails to remove any associated structures or restore the site to the condition approved by the Planning Board, all costs of the Town incurred to comply with this condition shall be paid using the financial security provided by the applicant.
The Town Board may set application, review and/or approval fees for solar energy collection systems by resolution, from time to time, as it deems appropriate.