Town of Eden, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Eden 7-12-2017 by L.L. No. 2-2017. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Conservation easements — See Ch. 95.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 184.
Wind energy conversion systems — See Ch. 217.
Zoning — See Ch. 225.
The Town Board of the Town of Eden adopts this chapter to accommodate the use of solar energy systems and to regulate the placement of solar energy systems so that the public health, safety, natural resources, and aesthetics of the Town and its residents will not be jeopardized.
A. 
The Town Board of the Town of Eden finds and declares that solar energy is an abundant, renewable and nonpolluting energy resource of the Town and that its conversion to electricity will reduce our dependence on nonrenewable energy sources. Therefore, the Town of Eden intends to accommodate the use of solar energy systems.
B. 
However, regulation of the siting, installation and use of solar energy systems is necessary for the purpose of protecting the health and safety of neighboring property owners and the general public, and the aesthetics of the community. These regulations are in place to balance the need to improve energy sustainability through increased use of solar energy while preserving the public health, welfare, and safety, as well as environmental quality, visual and aesthetic values, and existing neighborhood's social and ecological stability. Further; the intent is to minimize any adverse impacts on the character of the neighborhoods, property values, scenic, traffic safety, historic and environmental resources of the Town.
C. 
In addition, solar energy systems need to be regulated for removal when they are no longer utilized or are out of compliance with the requirements of this chapter.
The following definitions shall apply to this chapter:
APPLICANT
The person or entity filing an application and seeking an approval under this chapter; the owner or operator of a solar energy system or a proposed solar energy system; or any person acting on behalf of an applicant, solar energy system or proposed solar energy system. Whenever the term "applicant" or "owner" or "operator" is used in this chapter, it shall include any person acting as an applicant, owner or operator.
BUILDING-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS
A solar energy system that is affixed to the side(s) of a building or other structure either directly or by means of support structures or other mounting devices, but not including those mounted to the roof or top surface of a building.
GROUND-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
A solar energy system that is affixed to the ground either directly or by support structures or other mounting devices. Said system is an accessory structure.
ROOFTOP-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
Any solar energy system that is affixed to the roof or top surface of a building and is wholly contained within the limits of the roof or top surface, including roofing materials such as shingles and tiles.
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
Solar-energy-producing structures, equipment or devices used for the production of heat, light, cooling, electricity or other forms of energy, and which may be attached to or separate from the principal structure on a lot. For the purposes of this chapter, a solar energy system does not include any solar energy system of four square feet in size or less.
UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM
Any solar energy system that is capable of producing greater than 12kw of electricity per hour.
Subject to the provisions of this chapter, solar energy systems shall be allowed as follows:
A. 
All solar energy systems capable of producing 12kw of electricity per hour or less are permitted in all zoning districts in the Town.
B. 
Utility-scale solar energy systems are only permitted in an Agricultural District (AG), Rural Residential (RR), Planned Industrial (PI) and Suburban Residential (SR) Use District; provided, however, that no utility-scale solar energy system is permitted on any property in the MS4, floodplain, SR* or conservation overlay areas.
C. 
Any inconsistent provisions of the Zoning Law[1] which purport to or may be interpreted to allow solar energy systems in other districts are hereby superseded.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 225, Zoning.
The placement, construction, and major modification of all solar energy systems within the Town of Eden shall be permitted only as follows:
A. 
All solar energy systems require a building permit.
B. 
Utility-scale solar energy systems shall be permitted only by special use permit by the Town Board of Eden in use districts where allowed, in accordance with the criteria established in this chapter, after compliance with SEQRA, upon concurrent site plan approval issued by the Town of Eden Planning Board, and upon issuance of a building permit by the Town of Eden Building Department, and shall be subject to all provisions of this chapter.
C. 
All solar energy systems existing on the effective date of this chapter shall be allowed to continue usage as they presently exist. Routine maintenance shall be permitted on such existing systems. New construction other than routine maintenance shall comply with the requirements of this chapter.
D. 
No solar energy system shall hereafter be used, erected, moved, reconstructed, changed or altered except in conformity with this chapter.
E. 
Any applications (including variance applications) pending for solar energy systems on the effective date of this chapter shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter.
F. 
This chapter shall take precedence over any inconsistent provisions of the Town of Eden Code.
A. 
All solar energy systems shall comply with all applicable federal, state, county and Town of Eden laws, regulations and building, plumbing, electrical and fire codes. In addition, all solar energy systems shall be labeled with a permanent four-inch-by-six-inch red sign with white lettering next to the electric meter stating, "Solar on Site." The Code Enforcement Officer shall notify the Fire Departments of all solar energy system permits.
B. 
Building-mounted solar energy systems shall not be more than two feet from the building wall and shall not be permitted on any building facade facing a street.
C. 
Rooftop-mounted solar energy systems shall not exceed a maximum height of two feet from the existing roof or top surface of a building.
D. 
Ground-mounted solar energy systems capable of producing 12kw of electricity per hour or less shall be subject to the following requirements:
(1) 
They shall be located only in a side or rear yard, and if located in a side yard shall not be closer to the street than the primary building on the lot;
(2) 
They shall only be permitted on lots three acres or larger;
(3) 
They shall be placed no closer than two times the standard setback requirements for an accessory structure of the zoning district in which they are located;
(4) 
The height of said solar energy system shall not exceed 12 feet when oriented at maximum tilt; and
(5) 
The total surface area of said solar energy system on a lot shall not exceed that allowed for accessory structures or combinations of accessory structures where permitted.
(See § 172-8 for criteria for utility-scale ground-mounted systems.)
E. 
Solar storage batteries. When solar storage batteries are included as part of any solar energy system, they shall be placed in a secure container or enclosure meeting the requirements of the New York State building and fire codes.
F. 
Approval for placement and use of any solar energy system under this chapter is not a guarantee of solar skyspace access. If a solar energy operator needs or desires solar skyspace access across the property of another it may negotiate for an easement or other written agreement containing such terms as the parties may mutually agree. The provisions of the Chapter do not require any property owner to relinquish solar skyspace access to benefit a solar energy system, however.
G. 
All solar collectors and structures and devices used to support solar collectors shall be nonreflective and painted a subtle or earth-tone color.
H. 
The design, construction, operation and maintenance of any solar energy system shall demonstrably prevent the misdirection and/or reflection of solar rays onto neighboring properties, public roads and public parks.
I. 
The development and operation of any solar energy 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 or federal or state regulatory agencies.
J. 
Artificial lighting of any solar energy system shall be limited to lighting required for safety and operational purposes and shall be shielded from all neighboring properties and public roads and public parks.
K. 
If the use of any approved solar energy system is discontinued, the owner or operator shall notify the Code Enforcement Officer within 30 days of such discontinuance. If a solar energy system is to be retained and reused, the owner or operator shall further inform the Code Enforcement Officer of this in writing at such time and obtain any necessary approvals within one year, otherwise it shall be automatically deemed abandoned.
A special use permit is required to place, construct or make a major modification to a utility-scale solar energy system within the Town. The applicant shall submit 12 sets of the following information to the Code Enforcement Officer, who shall first present it to a professional engineer or consultant for an initial review and then present it to the Planning Board for its review and recommendation to the Town Board. The Planning Board may make such additional referrals as it deems appropriate. No such application shall be deemed filed until any required application fee has been paid. The following information shall be contained in the application:
A. 
A completed State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) environmental assessment form (EAF), with the Town of Eden Planning Board designated as lead agency for the SEQRA process.
B. 
Necessary permit information.
(1) 
Name, address, and telephone number of the property owner. If the property owner is not the applicant, the application shall include the name, address, and telephone number of the applicant and written permission signed by the property owner authorizing the applicant to represent the property owner; and
(2) 
Documentation of access to the project site(s), including location of all access roads, gates, parking areas, etc; and
(3) 
Utility interconnection data and a copy of written notification to the utility of the proposed interconnection; and
(4) 
One- or three-line electrical diagram detailing the solar energy system installation, associated components, and electrical interconnection methods, with all disconnects, and over-current devices.
C. 
A site plan in accordance with the Town of Eden's site plan requirements, and in sufficient detail as follows:
(1) 
Plans and drawings of the solar energy system installation signed by a professional engineer registered in New York State showing the proposal layout of the entire solar energy system, with a description of all components, whether on site or off site, existing vegetation and proposed clearing and grading of all sites involved, and utility lines, both above and below ground, on the site and adjacent to the site; and
(2) 
Property lot lines and the location and dimensions of all existing structures and uses on site within 500 feet of the solar panels; and
(3) 
Proposed fencing and/or screening for said project; and
(4) 
Clearing, grading, stormwater and erosion control.
(5) 
Before the Town of Eden shall issue a clearing, grading, stormwater or building permit for a utility-scale solar energy system, the applicant shall submit a stormwater and erosion control plan to the Town's professional engineer or consultant for its review and approval, and the plan shall minimize the potential adverse impacts on wetlands and Class I and II streams and the banks and vegetation along those streams and wetlands, and shall minimize erosion or sedimentation.
(6) 
Any such additional information as may be required by the Town's professional engineer or consultant. Town Board, Planning Board, Town Attorney or Code Enforcement Officer.
Special use permits issued for utility-scale solar energy systems shall meet the following criteria:
A. 
Any utility-scale solar energy system shall be placed a minimum of 200 feet from all adjacent property lot lines. Such setbacks from property lines will not apply if the application is accompanied by a legally enforceable written agreement that runs with the property for a period of 25 years or the life of the special use permit, whichever is longer, stating that the adjacent landowner(s) agrees to the elimination or reduction of the required setbacks. The setback requirements in this section can only be varied by agreement process with adjoining landowner(s), and not by a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals. Any agreement to reduce property line setbacks shall not constitute the reduction or elimination of required setbacks from structures; setbacks from structures, for safety reasons, shall not be reduced or eliminated.
B. 
The maximum height of a utility-scale solar energy system shall not exceed 20 feet when oriented at maximum tilt.
C. 
All transmission lines and wiring associated with a utility-scale solar energy system shall be buried to the power grid connection (including along any roads or highways) and include necessary encasements in accordance with the National Electric Code and Town requirements. The applicant is required to show the locations of all proposed underground 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.
D. 
Any signage used to advertise the solar energy facility shall be in accordance with the Town's signage regulations.
E. 
A berm, landscape screen or other opaque enclosure, or any combination thereof acceptable to the Town capable of screening the site, may be required along any property line that abuts an existing residence or public park.
F. 
After completion of a utility-scale solar energy system, the applicant shall provide written 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 plans approved by the Town of Eden Planning Board and/or Town Board.
G. 
A bond or other appropriate form of security shall be required to cover 1 1/2 times the cost of the removal and site restoration as determined by the Town's professional engineer or consultant, and proof of such bond or security shall be filed prior to construction and on an annual basis with the Town Clerk.
H. 
The applicant is required to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals and permits from all federal, state, county and local regulatory agencies having jurisdiction over utility-scale solar energy systems.
I. 
The special use permit may be granted or denied, or granted with stated written conditions. Denial of a special use permit shall be by written decision based upon substantial evidence considered by the Board. Upon issuance of a special use permit, the applicant shall seek a building permit for the utility-scale solar energy system.
A. 
Time limit for completion of utility-scale solar energy systems. After the granting of a special use permit of a utility-scale solar energy system with site plan approval, a building permit shall be obtained within six months. The project shall be completed within 12 months thereafter. If not then constructed, the special use permit shall automatically expire.
B. 
Inspections. Upon reasonable notice, the Code Enforcement Officer or his or her designee may inspect any solar energy system for the purpose of compliance with this chapter. Twenty-four hours' advance notice by telephone to the owner/operator or designated contact person shall be deemed reasonable notice. Furthermore, a utility-scale solar energy system shall be inspected annually by a New York State-licensed professional engineer that has been approved by the Town or at any other time, upon a determination by the Code Enforcement Officer that damage may have occurred, or that the solar energy system is not in compliance with the requirements of this chapter. A copy of the inspection report shall be submitted to the Code Enforcement Officer. Fees or expenses associated with inspections shall be borne entirely by the permit holder.
C. 
Continued operation. All solar energy systems shall be maintained in operational condition at all times, subject to reasonable maintenance and repair outages. Operational condition includes meeting all approval requirements and conditions. Further, the Code Enforcement Officer shall have the right to require annual documentation of the on-site usage and total electricity output of any solar energy system.
D. 
Removal. All solar energy systems shall be dismantled and removed immediately, at the cost of the owner, when the special use permit or approval has been revoked by the Town of Eden Town Board, or the solar energy system has been deemed by the Code Enforcement Officer to be inoperative or abandoned for a period of more than 180 days consecutively. If the owner does not dismantle and remove the solar energy system as required, the Town may do so and shall apply the required bond to the cost, followed by a tax lien on said parcel for expenses not covered by the bond.
E. 
Determination of abandonment or inoperability. A determination of the abandonment or inoperability of a solar energy system shall be made by the Code Enforcement Officer, who shall provide the owner with written notice of such determination by personal service or certified mail. The owner may appeal the Code Enforcement Officer's determination of abandonment or inoperability by written request to the Town Board filed within 30 days of the owner's receipt of the written notice from the Code Enforcement Officer. The Town Board shall hold a public hearing on the owner's appeal on not less than 10 days' written notice to said owner. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Town Board, following such hearing may apply to the Supreme Court for review under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. Such proceeding shall be instituted within 30 days after the filing of the Town Board's decision in the office of the Town Clerk.
F. 
Fees. Solar energy systems shall pay all applicable fees set forth in the Town's Schedule of Fees, including an application fee, special use permit fee, building permit fee and annual inspection fee.
G. 
Alterations. Any changes or alterations post-construction to a utility-scale solar energy system shall be done only after amendment of the special use permit and/or site plan (if required) and/or the building permit, and subject to all requirements of this chapter.
H. 
Transferability. Special use permits for utility-scale solar energy systems shall be assignable or transferable so long as they are in full compliance with this chapter, and the Code Enforcement Officer is notified in writing at least 15 days prior thereto.
If the applicant violates any of the conditions of its special use permit or site plan approval or building permit, or violates any other local, state or federal laws, rules or regulations, this shall be grounds for revocation of the special use permit, site plan approval or building permit. Revocation may occur after the applicant is notified in writing of the violations.
In their interpretation and application, the provisions of this chapter shall be held to be minimum requirements, adopted for the promotion of the public health, safety and general welfare. It is not intended to interfere with, abrogate, or annul other rules, regulations or laws, provided that whenever the requirements of this chapter are at a variance with the requirements of any other lawfully adopted regulations, rules or laws, the most restrictive, or those which impose the highest standards, shall govern. If any portion of this chapter is for any reason held invalid, void, unconstitutional, or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed a separate, distinct, and independent provision, and such holding shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions hereof.