TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
TUESDAY, 08/10/2021, 7:00 PM
MEMBERS PRESENT: PAT RICE PHIL STRAND
JIM GOODLING RICHARD JOHNSON
GARY WINGER WALTER GEIST
WALTER GEIST BRANDON VANCURAN (alternate)
Brad Lawson, Zoning C.E.O
OTHERS PRESENT: Stephanie Gibbs, Dick Sena, Dale Robbins/Kelly Johnson, Mike Pfeil, Don McCord, Jonathan Henck
- PAT RICE OPENED THE MEETING AT 7:00 PM.
- DICK SENA, TOWN COUNCIL GAVE TOWN REPORT. (See 8/9/2021 Town Board Minutes)
- MR. LAWSON, ZONING C.E.O. GAVE ZONING REPORT.
Mr. McCord said there are a lot of changes in this proposed law compared to what
we had put together previously. He said so much has changed regarding solar. Mr. McCord discussed the new proposed law attached with the planning board.
Mr. Sena questioned a maintenance plan to ensure the property be kept maintained. Mr. McCord said he would check into it. Mr. Sena said there was a brief maintenance plan in the presented law. Mr. McCord said if we put all these laws in place we must think about as a town if we have the capacity to enforce them.
- COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Mr. Rice asked Mr. McCord if we want to change our comprehensive plan.
Mr. McCord said he will go through the plan and think about sewer and water and address the needs. Mr. McCord said he can have some advice by the next meeting.
Next regular meeting scheduled September 14, 2021, at 7:00 P.M.
- ON A MOTION MADE BY MR. GEIST, SECONDED BY MR. JOHNSON AND NONE BEING APPOSED, THE MEETING WAS ADJOURNED AT 8:45 PM
Deputy Town Clerk
TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
LOCAL LAW NO. __ OF 2021
“AMENDING SECTION 621 OF THE TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY ZONING CODE
REGARDING SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS”
Be it enacted by the Town Board of the Town of North Harmony as follows:
SECTION 1. AUTHORITY
This local law is adopted pursuant to the authority of Municipal Home Rule Law of the State of New York
and Sections 261-263 of the Town Law of the State of New York, which authorize the Town to adopt zoning
provisions that advance and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and, in accordance
with the Town Law of New York State, “to make provision for, so far as conditions may permit, the
accommodation of solar energy systems and equipment and access to sunlight necessary therefore.”
SECTION II. SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM REGULATIONS
The current Section 621 of the Town of North Harmony Zoning Code is hereby repealed and replaced in
its entirety with the following:
Section 621 – Solar Energy Systems.
(1) Purpose. This Solar Energy Local Law is adopted to advance and protect the public health, safety,
and welfare of the Town by creating regulations for the installation and use of solar energy
generating systems and equipment, with the following objectives and intent:
(a) To take advantage of a safe, abundant, renewable and non-polluting energy resource;
(b) To protect environmental resources such as agricultural lands, forests, wildlife and their habitats,
waterways, wetlands, unique views and other protected resources from the potential for adverse
impacts from Solar Energy Systems;
(c) To decrease the cost of electricity to the owners of residential and commercial properties,
including single-family houses;
(d) To invest in a locally generated source of energy to increase employment and business
development in the Town of North Harmony to the extent reasonably practical by furthering
the installation of solar energy systems;
(e) To provide other benefits to the Town and its residents to mitigate impacts from the solar
(f) To mitigate the impacts of Solar Energy Systems on environmental resources such as important
agricultural lands, forests, wildlife and other protected resources. The use of small-scale, onfarm sources alternative to energy generation is beneficial to local farmers allowing them the
ability to cut utility costs and/or supplement their income;
(g) To protect adjoining/surrounding property owners by mitigating the potential impacts from
large scale solar installations;
(h) To aid in the energy independence of the community as well as the country.
(i) To create zoning regulations in accordance with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and other
regional planning documents;
(2) Definitions. As used in this Section, the following terms shall have the meaning indicated:
APPLICANT: The individual/individuals or entity/entities that apply for any
federal, state, or local government permit or permission for installation of a Solar
BUILDING-INTEGRATED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM: A combination of Solar Panels and
Solar Energy Equipment integrated into any building envelope system such as vertical facades,
semitransparent skylight systems, roofing materials, or shading over windows, which produce
electricity for onsite consumption.
COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECT: Solar Energy Systems that are connected in
parallel with a utility distribution system, and with a Facility Area less than or
equal to 30 acres, and a nameplate capacity of 5 megawatts or less. A Community
Solar Project is connected to a medium voltage utility distribution systems between
13 kv and 34.5 kv.
DWELLING UNIT: Any residence/house/apartment that may be occupied or vacant
FACILITY AREA: The physical area, measured in both square feet and acres, used for any
solar energy system, including the area within fencing, roads, visual screening, support
facilities, Solar Energy Equipment, and all other components of a solar energy system
facility. The facility area shall include, and shall not be limited to, the surface area of any
Solar Panel and Solar Energy Equipment. The Facility Area is part of the Project Site.
FARMLAND OF STATEWIDE IMPORTANCE – Land, designated as “Farmland of Statewide
Importance” in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s
(NRCS) Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database on Web Soil Survey that is of state-wide
importance for the production of food, feed, fiber, forage, and oilseed crops as determined by the
appropriate state agency or agencies. Farmland of Statewide Importance may include tracts of
land that have been designated for agriculture by state law.
GLARE – The effect by reflections of light with intensity sufficient as determined in a
commercially reasonable manner to cause annoyance, discomfort, or loss in visual performance
and visibility in any material respects.
GLINT – Deleted
GROUND-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM – A Solar Energy System that is anchored
to the ground via a pole or other mounting system, detached from any other structure that
generates electricity for onsite or offsite consumption.
HOST COMMUNITY AGREEMENT – A contract between a developer and a local governing
body, whereby the developer agrees to provide the community with certain benefits and mitigate
specified impacts of the solar project.
LARGE-SCALE SYSTEM (Deleted)
NATIVE PERENNIAL VEGETATION – Native wildflowers, forbs, and grasses that serve as
habitat, forage, and migratory way stations for pollinators and shall not include any prohibited or
regulated invasive species as determined by the New York State Department of Environmental
NON-PARTICIPATING PROPERTY – A property that is not affiliated with a Solar Energy
System project in any contractual manner.
PARCEL(S) – A tract of land owned by an individual or entity leased or otherwise controlled by
an applicant upon which a Solar Energy System is proposed to be constructed.
PARTICIPATING PROPERTY – A property that is being leased for solar usage, or a property
that has an agreement or lease but is not having solar related improvements constructed upon it.
POLLINATOR – Bees, birds, bats, and other insects or wildlife that pollinate flowering plants,
and includes both wild and managed insects.
PRIME FARMLAND – Land, designated as “Prime Farmland” or “Prime Farmland where
drained” in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)’s
Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database on Web Soil Survey, that has the best combination
of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops
and is also available for these land uses.
PROJECT SITE: The physical area needed for a Solar Energy System including any
setbacks, buffers, fencing, roads, screening, support facilities, and Solar Energy Equipment.
The Project Site includes the Facility Area.
ROOF-MOUNTED SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM – A Solar Energy System located on the roof
of any legally permitted building or structure that produces electricity for onsite or offsite
SMALL-SCALE SOLAR – Deleted
SOLAR ACCESS – Space open to the sun and clear of overhangs or shade so as to permit the use
of active and/or passive Solar Energy Systems on individual properties.
SOLAR ENERGY EQUIPMENT – Electrical material, hardware, inverters, conduit, storage
devices, or other electrical and photovoltaic equipment associated with the production of
SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM – The components and subsystems required to convert solar energy
into electric energy suitable for use. The term includes, but is not limited to, Solar Panels and Solar
Energy Equipment. A Solar Energy System in the Town of North Harmony is classified as a Tier
1, Tier 2, Tier 3 or Tier 4 Solar Energy System as follows.
A. Tier 1 Solar Energy Systems include the following:
- Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Systems
- Building-Integrated Solar Energy Systems
B. Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems include Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems less than
4,000 square feet in size (defined as the actual square footage of panels) and that generate
no more than 110% of the electricity consumed on the site over the previous 12 months.
- Notwithstanding the above, a solar energy system located on a farm operation,
as defined in § 301(11) or the relevant provision of the New York State
Agriculture and Markets Law, and located in a New York State Agricultural
District, which primarily serves the needs of such farm operation and produces
up to 110% of the farm’s needs, or other amount that may be established by
resolution of the North Harmony Town Board in accordance with New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets guidance, shall be deemed a Tier 2 solar
energy system subject to limitations on farmland conversion contained in
Section§ 232-16.12 (F) and (G).
C. Tier 3 Solar Energy Systems are systems that do not meet the definition of a Tier 1 or Tier
2 Solar Energy Systems and do not meet the requirements of a Tier 4 Solar Energy System.
D. Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems meet the definition of a Tier 3 Solar Energy System but have
a facility area over 25 acres in size.
SOLAR PANEL – A photovoltaic device capable of collecting and converting solar energy into
SOLAR THERMAL SYSTEMS – Deleted
- A device that stores energy and makes it available in an electrical form
WETLANDS – Any areas designated as such by the NYS Department of Environmental
Conservation or the US Army Corps of Engineers
(a) The requirements of this Section shall apply to all Solar Energy Systems permitted,
installed, or modified in the Town after the effective date of this Section, excluding general
maintenance and repair.
(b) Solar Energy Systems constructed or installed prior to the effective date of this Local
Law shall not be required to meet the requirements of this Local Law.
(c) Modifications to an existing Solar Energy System that increase the Solar Energy System area
by more than 5% of the original area of the Solar Energy System (exclusive of moving any
fencing) shall be subject to this Section.
(d) All Solar Energy Systems shall be designed, erected, and installed in accordance with all
applicable codes, regulations, and industry standards as referenced in the NYS Uniform Fire
Prevention and Building Code (“Building Code”), the NYS Energy Conservation Code
(“Energy Code”), and the Town Code.
(e) All applicable substantive standards set forth herein are intended to apply to projects sited
by the State Siting Board, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting, or any other government
body of competent jurisdiction to provide siting approval for power plants within the Town of
(4) General Requirements.
(a) A building permit shall be required for installation of all Solar Energy Systems.
(b) Issuance of permits and approvals by the Town Board and Planning Board shall include review
pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act ECL Article 8 and its implementing
regulations at 6 NYCRR Part 617 (“SEQRA”).
(c) All permitted Solar Energy Systems shall be installed by a qualified solar installer.
(d) This section shall not apply to any lot owned by a municipality.
(5) Permitting Requirement for Tier 1 Solar Energy Systems. Tier 1 Solar Energy Systems shall
be permitted in all zoning districts by right, subject to the following conditions:
(a). Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Systems.
- Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Systems shall incorporate, when feasible, the following
a. Solar Panels on pitched roofs shall be mounted with a maximum distance of 8 inches
between the roof surface the highest edge of the system.
b. Solar Panels on pitched roofs shall be installed parallel to the roof surface on which
they are mounted or attached.
c. Solar Panels on pitched roofs shall not extend higher than the highest point of the
roof surface on which they are mounted or attached
d. Solar Panels on flat roofs shall not extend above the top of the surrounding parapet,
or more than 24 inches above the flat surface of the roof, whichever is higher.
- Glare: All Solar Panels shall have anti-reflective coating(s) and proof of such must be
provided with the building permit application.
- Height: All Roof-Mounted Solar Energy Systems shall be subject to the maximum
height regulations specified for principal and accessory buildings within the
underlying zoning district.
- Fire safety: All Roof mounted systems shall be designed and installed in accordance with
the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Standards.
- Roof Access Points. Roof access points shall be located:
a. In areas that establish access pathways which are independent of each other and as
remote from each other as practicable so as to provide escape routes from all points
along the roof.
b. In areas that do not require the placement of ground ladders over openings such as
windows or doors or areas that may cause congestion or create other hazards.
c. At strong points of building construction, such as corners, pilasters, hips, and valleys
and other areas capable of supporting the live load from emergency responders.
d. Where the roof access point does not conflict with overhead obstructions such as tree
limbs, wires or signs.
e. Where the roof access point does not conflict with ground obstructions such as decks,
fences or landscaping.
f. In areas that minimize roof tripping hazards such as vents, skylights, satellite dishes,
antennas, or conduit runs.
- Ground access areas. Ground access areas shall be located directly beneath access
roofs and roof access points. The minimum width of the ground access area shall be the
full width of the access roof or roof access point, measured at the eave. The minimum depth
shall allow for the safe placement of ground ladders for gaining entry to the access roof.
- Notification to the Fire Service. Notification in writing to the Fire Department having
operational authority at the location where the system will be installed shall be made no
later than ten (10) days following installation:
a. Notification shall include a site map showing the location of the solar energy electrical
panel, as well as the proper operation of the disconnect switch(s) in the event of a fire
or other emergency situation where the homeowner, tenant or other personnel is not
available or familiar with the safe shut down operation of unit so as to have the ability
to cut power from the solar panels.
b. In addition, a proper written statement showing the method of shut down shall be
posted inside the main electrical panel of the unit which can be readily accessible for
and to firefighting personnel.
(b) Building-Integrated Solar Energy Systems. Building-Integrated Solar Energy Systems shall be
shown on the plans submitted for the building permit application for the building containing
(c) Tier 1 Solar Energy Systems are subject to the following conditions:
Pitched Roof Flat Roof Generation
All solar surfaces and
equipment shall not exceed
12 inches from the finished
roof surface in all
residential, districts; and 24
inches in the Commercial,
Manufacturing, and LightIndustrial Districts.
Panels shall not extend
higher than the highest point
on the roof surface
Panels and equipment must
be at least 18 inches from
the roof edge
Panels must be installed
parallel with the roof surface
Panels shall not extend
above the top of the
surrounding parapet or
more than 24 inches
above the flat surface of
the roof, whichever is
Limited to energy
required for on-site use
(6) Permitting Requirements for Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems. Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems shall
be permitted in Agricultural (A), Ag Residential (AR), Commercial (C-1), and Light Industrial
(I-1) zoning districts as an accessory use and require a site plan review in accordance with the Town
of North Harmony Zoning Code and other Town land use regulations.
The site plan review application shall include a site plan and address the following requirements:
(a) Glare: All Solar Panels shall have anti-reflective coating(s) and proof of such must be provided
with the building permit application.
(b) Setbacks: Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems shall be set back a minimum of 50 feet from any side
or rear property line. All Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems shall only be installed in the
side or rear yards. In all cases, the solar panels shall be located a minimum of 75 feet from any
dwelling unit on an adjoining non-participating property.
(c) Height: Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems shall be less than 12 feet in height.
(d) Screening and Visibility.
- All Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems shall have views minimized from adjacent properties to
the extent reasonably practicable.
- Solar Energy Equipment shall be located in a manner to reasonably avoid and/or minimize
blockage of views from surrounding properties and shading of property to the north, while
still providing adequate solar access.
(e) Lot Size: Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems shall comply with the existing lot size requirement specified
for accessory structures within the underlying zoning district
(f) Tier 2 Solar Energy Systems are subject to the following conditions:
Setbacks Height Electrical
A minimum of
50 feet from
any side or rear
A minimum of
75 feet from
unit on an
Less than 12
feet in all
Less than 15
feet for all
(7) Permitting Requirements for Tier 3 Solar Energy Systems. Tier 3 Solar Energy Systems
are permitted through the issuance of a special use permit within the Agricultural District, and
subject to site plan review application requirements set forth in this Section. In order
to ensure that the benefits of the community solar energy resource are available to the entire
community, the Town of North Harmony requires the applicant to enter into a Solar Energy System
PILOT and Host Community Agreement with the Town of North Harmony.
(a) The application process for the installation of Tier 3 Solar Energy System shall be:
- Application received by the Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) and checked to make sure
the appropriate documents have been submitted. The CEO will then refer the
application to the Town Board, which will forward it to the Planning Board for it to make
a final determination as to completeness of the application. Applicants shall be advised
within 10 business days of the first Planning Board meeting about the completeness of their
application or any deficiencies that must be addressed prior to substantive review of the
Special Use Permit and Site Plan.
- Once the application is deemed complete and while the Planning Board is completing its
reviews, the project/application shall be referred to the Town Board to begin completion
of the Host Community Agreement. This agreement will need to be finalized before the
Town Board acts on the Special Use Permit.
- Subject to a public hearing to hear all comments for and against the application. The Town
shall complete all public notice requirements in accordance with the Special Use
requirements of the Town.
- Referred to the Chautauqua County Planning Department by the Town Board pursuant to
General Municipal Law §239-m if required.
- Acted upon by the Planning Board to complete site plan review and make a report and
recommendation to the Town Board.
- Acted upon by the Town Board to complete the SEQR process determine whether a
special use permit should be issued
(b) Design and Application Requirements. Applications for Tier 3 Solar projects shall address and
include the following:
- Vehicular Paths. Vehicular paths within the site shall be designed to minimize the extent
of impervious materials and soil compaction.
a. No signage or graphic content shall be displayed on the Solar Energy Systems except
the manufacturer’s name, equipment specification information, safety information, and
24-hour emergency contact information. Said information shall be depicted within an
area no more than 8 square feet.
b. As required by National Electric Code (NEC), disconnect and other emergency shutoff
information shall be clearly displayed on a light reflective surface. A clearly visible
warning sign concerning voltage shall be placed at the base of all pad-mounted
transformers and substations.
- Glare. All Solar Panels shall have anti-reflective coating(s) and proof of such
- Lighting. Lighting of the Solar Energy Systems shall be limited to that minimally
required for safety and operational purposes and shall be reasonably shielded and
downcast (dark sky compliant) from abutting properties.
- Noise. Information on any noise producing equipment (as determined by the Town
based on application materials) shall be submitted. If necessary, the Planning Board
will require analysis of the noise on any sensitive receptors, including single family
- Tree-cutting. Removal of existing trees larger than 6 inches in diameter should be
minimized to the extent possible.
a. Solar Energy Systems that have been abandoned and/or not producing electricity
(defined as operated at a minimum of 50% capacity for a period of at least 6
months) for a period of 1 year shall be removed at the Owner and/or Operator’s
expense, which at the Owner’s option may come from any security made with the
Town as set forth in this law.
b. A decommissioning plan signed by the owner and/or operator of the Solar Energy
System shall be submitted by the applicant, addressing the
- The cost of removing the Solar Energy System (with no allowance for the recycling
or salvage value).
- The time required to decommission and remove the Solar System and any
- The time required to repair any damage caused to the property by the
installation and removal of the Solar Energy System.
- All calculations shall be verified by the engineer employed by the Town.
a. The deposit, executions, or filing with the Town Clerk of cash, bond, or other
form of security reasonably acceptable to the Town Attorney and/or engineer
and approved by the Town Board, shall be in an amount sufficient to ensure
the good faith performance of the terms and conditions of the permit issued
pursuant hereto and to provide for the removal and restorations of the site
subsequent to removal. The amount of the bond or security shall be 125 % of
the cost of removal of the Tier 3 Solar Energy System and restoration of the
property with an escalator of 2 % annually for the life of the Solar Energy
System. The decommissioning amount shall not be reduced by the amount of
the estimated salvage value of the Solar Energy System.
b. In the event of default upon performance of such conditions, after proper
notice and expiration of any cure periods, the cash deposit, bond, or security
shall be forfeited to the Town, which shall be entitled to maintain an action
thereon. The cash deposit, bond, or security shall remain in full force and effect
until restoration of the property as set forth in the decommissioning plan is
c. In the event of default or abandonment of the Solar Energy System, the system
shall be decommissioned as set forth in this law.
d. Notwithstanding the forgoing, any Tier 4 solar energy system and any
associated battery energy storage systems sited pursuant to Article 10 of the
Public Service Law or Article 94-c of the Executive Law shall be required to
obtain a letter of credit or fund an escrow in an amount satisfactory to the
Town of North Harmony, to ensure the removal of the systems, their
components, and associated structures, fixtures, equipment, fencing, subsurface components or other improvements, and the remediation of the site.
The amount of the letter of credit shall not be reduced by the salvage value
of facility components.
- Application Fees: All applications for Tier 3 solar energy systems shall include the
appropriate fees as set by the North Harmony Town Board. The Applicant shall reimburse
the Town for all legal and expert/engineering costs required to review applications, whether
made to the Town of North Harmony, the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (“ORES”),
or the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (the “Siting Board”).
- Maintenance Plan: Applications shall include a maintenance plan for all leased lands
(including required setbacks/buffers). (Noxious weeds shall not be tolerated. Monthly
mowing shall occur in the months of May, June, July, August, and September. Monthly
debris removal from the fence line is required.)
- Safety; applications shall include a safety plan (including communication with emergency
- Environmental and cultural resources; information on the environmental and cultural
resources (as identified through the NYSDEC Mapping system and by the Town of
North Harmony) on the subject property and surrounding properties.
- A property owner who has installed, or intends to install, a solar energy system may choose
to negotiate with other property owners in the vicinity for any necessary solar skyspace
easements. The issuance of a special use permit by the Town does not constitute solar
skyspace rights, a nd the Town shall not be responsible for ensuring impermissible
obstruction to the solar skyspace as a result of uses or development performed in
accordance with Town Code.
(8) Permitting Requirements for Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems. All Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems
are permitted through the issuance of a special use permit within the Agricultural District,
and subject to site plan and special use permit requirements set forth in this Section for Tier 3
projects (all requirements in § 621(7)). In order to ensure that the benefits of the community solar
energy resource are available to the entire community, the Town of North Harmony shall require
all Tier 4 applicants to enter into a Solar Energy System PILOT and Host Community Agreement.
These Tier 4 systems are very large systems that have a potential to significantly affect the Town
of North Harmony, its residents, and the economy of the community. Therefore, the Tier 4 systems
shall require the following additional submittals, requirements, or revisions to the Tier 3
(a) An Agricultural Impact Statement to determine the impact to Agriculture in the Town. The
Town of North Harmony has a standard Agricultural Impact Statement Table of Contents
that will be provided to the applicant. The Planning Board, on a project-by-project basis, will
work with the applicant on finalizing the requirements of this Agricultural Impact Statement.
(b) An Economic Impact Analysis to determine the impact to the economy of the Town. This
includes the agricultural impacts in the Ag Impact statement and information as noted by the
Town Planning Board.
(c) Any Tier 4 Solar Energy System located on lands that consist of Prime Farmland soils or
Farmland soils of Statewide Importance shall not exceed 50% of the area of Prime Farmland
or Farmland of Statewide Importance on the parcel or project site as a whole (if multiple parcels
are included) upon which panels and other solar energy equipment (the fenced in area) are to
be installed. Any program in which the applicant participates that provides for the use of the
land within the fenced in area as farm related uses may be excluded from this 50% coverage
threshold calculation based on the amount of space actually occupied by the farm use. This
exclusion will only be allowed based on the Planning Board’s determination that these lands
are being used for actual Agricultural uses.
(d) If the project proposes to affect more than 50% of these Prime or Statewide Important soils,
the applicant may purchase or lease (for the lease period of the proposed project) development
rights, of an equal amount of land over the 50% threshold, of another farm within the Town of
North Harmony with Prime or Statewide Important soils located on that land to offset the
farmland used or leased in the primary project area. The purchase or lease of the development
rights becomes perpetual or so long as project is viable and until fully decommissioned.
(9) Site plan application. For any Solar Energy system requiring a Special Use Permit, site plan
approval shall be required. This required site plan application shall include a site plan and the
(a) A Plan illustrating property lines and physical features, including roads, for the project site.
(b) Proposed changes to the landscape of the site, grading, vegetation clearing and planting,
exterior lighting, and screening vegetation or structures
(c) A one- or three-line electrical diagram detailing the Solar Energy System layout, solar collector
installation, associated components, and electrical interconnection methods, with all National
Electrical Code compliant disconnects and over current devices.
(d) A preliminary equipment specification sheet that documents all proposed solar panels,
significant components, mounting systems, and inverters that are to be installed. A final
equipment specification sheet shall be submitted prior to the issuance of building permit.
(e) Name, address, and contact information of proposed or potential system installer and the owner
and/or operator of the Solar Energy System. Such information of the final system installer shall
be submitted prior to the issuance of building permit.
(f) Name, address, phone number, and signature of the project applicant, as well as all the property
owners, demonstrating their consent to the application and the use of the property for the Solar
(g) Zoning district designation for the parcel(s) of land comprising the project site.
(h) Property Operation and Maintenance Plan. Such plan shall describe continuing photovoltaic
maintenance and property upkeep, such as mowing and trimming (or other methodologies).
(i) Erosion and sediment control and storm water management plans prepared to New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation standards, if applicable, and to such standards as
may be established by the Planning Board.
(j) Engineering documents must be signed and sealed by a New York State (NYS) Licensed
Professional Engineer or NYS Registered Architect.
(k) A completed SEQR Full Environmental Assessment Form.
(l) A Landscape Plan in accordance with the Special Use Permit requirements of this law.
(m) A calculation of the area of the solar energy system in acres (as defined in the definition of Tier
3 and Tier 4 systems).
(n) For applications for Tier 4 systems, any off-site infrastructure, including transmission lines and
points of grid interconnection (POI), shall be noted on site plans and be included in review of
the project. Any off-site POI should be subject to the same safety and visibility requirements
as the balance of the project.
(o) Any utility poles constructed as part of a solar project may be made available for co-location
by other utilities.
(p) Any such other additional information as may be required by the Planning Board a Town
professional engineer or consultant, the North Harmony Town Board, the Town Attorney, the
Town Code Enforcement Officer, or other Town entity.
(10) Special Use Permit Design Standards.
(a) Specific Standards.
- Lot size. There are no lot size requirements; the project must be shown to meet all setback
and other requirements of this law.
- Setbacks. All Tier 3 and Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems shall be set back a minimum of 50
feet from the fence surrounding the solar panels and equipment to all property lines and to
the edge of any road right-of-way. Additionally, the setback from the fence line shall be a
minimum of 300 feet from the side or rear of a dwelling unit on an adjoining nonparticipating property. The setback to any off-site participating dwelling unit shall be 100
feet from the side or rear of the dwelling unit.
a. There shall be no setback requirements for contiguous participating parcels.
- Height. The Tier 3 Solar Energy Systems shall be less than or equal to 20 ft. The height of
systems will be measured from the highest natural grade below each solar panel. This
height requirement can be waived by the Planning Board if the panels are being raised to
accommodate agricultural purposes (e.g. grazing).
- Fencing Requirements. All mechanical equipment, including any structure for storage
batteries, shall be enclosed by a fence, and meet any other regulatory requirements such as
NEC, with a self-locking gate to prevent unauthorized access.
- Screening and Visibility.
a. Solar Energy Systems smaller than 5 acres shall have views minimized from adjacent
properties to the extent reasonably practicable using architectural features, earthen
berms, landscaping, or other screening methods that will harmonize with the character
of the property and surrounding area.
- Solar Energy Systems larger than 5 acres shall be required to:
a) Conduct a visual assessment of the visual impacts of the Solar Energy System
on public roadways and adjacent properties. At a minimum, a line-of-sight
profile analysis shall be provided. Depending upon the scope and potential
significance of the visual impacts, additional impact analyses, including for
example a digital viewshed report, may be required to be submitted by the
b). Submit a screening & landscaping plan to show adequate measures to screen
through landscaping, grading, or other means so that views of Solar Panels and
Solar Energy Equipment shall be minimized as reasonably practical from
public roadways and adjacent properties to the extent feasible. The Planning
Board will in good faith determine the adequacy of these measures in its sole
and absolute discretion.
c) The screening & landscaping plan shall specify the locations, elevations,
height, plant species, and/or materials that will comprise the structures,
landscaping, and/or grading used to screen and/or mitigate any adverse
aesthetic effects of the system. The landscaped screening shall be comprised
of a minimum of 1 evergreen tree, at least 6 feet high at time of planting, plus
2 supplemental shrubs at the reasonable discretion of the Town Planning
Board, all planted within each 10 linear feet of the Solar Energy System.
Existing vegetation may be used to satisfy all or a portion of the required
landscaped screening. A list of suitable evergreen tree and shrub species
should be provided by the Town. This minimum screening requirement will
be reduced if adjoining properties are participating properties. Review of
survival of plantings will be required annually for three (3) years.
d) For any buildings or structures (not panels) to be placed on the site, the
applicant shall be required to submit plans illustrating how these structures
will blend into the character of the area. For example, buildings can be made
to look like agricultural structures such as barns.
- Agricultural Resources. For projects located on agricultural lands:
a. Any Tier 3 Solar Energy System located in areas that consist of Prime Farmland soils
or Farmland soils of Statewide Importance shall not exceed 50% of the area of Prime
Farmland or Farmland of Statewide Importance on the parcel upon which panels and
other Solar Energy Equipment (the fenced in area) are to be installed. Any program in
which the applicant participates that provides for the use of the land within the fenced
in area as farm related uses may be excluded from this 50% coverage threshold
calculation based on the amount of space actually occupied by the farm use. This
exclusion will only be allowed based on a Planning Board’s determination that these
lands are being used for actual Agricultural uses.
b. Tier 3 Solar Energy Systems located on Prime Farmland shall be constructed in
accordance with the construction requirements of the New York State Department of
Agriculture and Markets (See NYS Agriculture and Markets Guidelines).
c. Tier 3 Solar Energy System owners shall develop, implement, and maintain native
vegetation to the extent practicable pursuant to a vegetation management plan by
providing native perennial vegetation and foraging habitat beneficial to game birds,
songbirds, and pollinators. To the extent practicable, when establishing perennial
vegetation and beneficial foraging habitat, the owners shall use native plant species
and seed mixes. Once established, other agriculture uses such as pasturing livestock
and apiculture are permissible and encouraged.
d. Agricultural Restoration Requirements: once the system is decommissioned, the site
shall be restored and remediated in accordance with the NYS Agriculture and Markets
Guidelines (this will be a condition of the Special Use Permit).
- Noise: The project shall be shown to not have any adverse noise impacts on any
surrounding homes or other sensitive receptors (use of NYSDEC regulations concerning
- Hazardous Materials: The project components shall not contain any hazardous materials
that could contaminate soils or the air by their release (units shall not contain cadmium or
other hazardous materials). Specific material data information/specifications (SDS/MSDS
sheets) shall be submitted on all components of the project. The applicant must ensure that
no harmful chemicals will be leaked into the soils over the life of the project. For certain
components of the project, information on spill containment systems will need to be
provided. This required information shall be reviewed by the Planning Board, their
consultants and the Fire Department.).
- Solar Energy System Liability Insurance:
a. The Holder of a Special Use Permit for a Solar Energy System Shall Agree to secure
and maintain for the duration of the permit, public liability insurance as follows:
1) Commercial general liability covering personal injuries, death and property
damage: $5,000,000 per occurrence ($10,000,000 aggregate) which shall
specifically include the Town of North Harmony and its officers, councils,
employees, attorneys, agents and consultants as additional named insured;
2.) Umbrella cove rage: $10,000,000.
b. Insurance Company: The insurance policies shall be issued by an agent or
representative of an insurance company licensed to do business in the State and with
at least a Best’s rating of “A”.
c. Insurance Policy Cancellation: The insurance policies shall contain an endorsement
obligating the insurance company to furnish the Town of North Harmony with at least
thirty (30) days prior written notice in advance of cancellation.
d. Insurance Policy Renewal: Renewal or replacement policies shall be delivered to the
Town of North Harmony at least fifteen (15) days before the expiration of the insurance
that such policies are to renew or replace.
e. Copies of Insurance Policy: No more than fifteen (15) days after the grant of the permit
before construction is initiated, the permit holder shall deliver to the Town of North
Harmony a copy of each of the policies or certificates representing the insurance in the
f. Certificate of Insurance: A certificate of insurance states that it is for informational
purposes only and does not confer sufficient rights upon the Town of North Harmony
shall not be deemed to comply with this Law.
g. Certificate of Insurance: A certificate of insurance states that it is for informational
purposes only and does not confer sufficient rights upon the Town of North Harmony
shall not be deemed to comply with this Law.
h. Tier 3 and Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems are subject to the following conditions:
System Setback Height Lot Size Fencing
Tier 3 and
Tier 4 Solar
A minimum of 50
feet from the
the solar panels
and equipment to
all property lines
and to the edge of
any road right-ofway.
Fence Line – A
minimum of 300
feet from the side
or rear of a
dwelling unit on
an adjoining nonparticipating
dwelling unit 100
feet from the side
or rear of the
Less than or
equal to 20 feet.
No requirement. All mechanical
equipment shall be
enclosed by a
fence, meet any
as NEC, and have
a self-locking gate.
(11) Waiver Relief. The Town Board recognizes that no regulation can anticipate every creative
plan that may be devised, which, though not in strict compliance with the provisions of this article,
nevertheless, is not objectionable. Accordingly, the Town Board is hereby empowered to grant relief
to an applicant from the strict application of this Section where the applicant provides sufficient
grounds for a finding that the proposal comports as much as feasible with the spirit and letter of
this Section and, though not in strict compliance therewith, remains aesthetically pleasing, protects
neighboring properties, and preserves property values within the Town of North Harmony.
(12) Reimbursement of Fees.
(a) An Applicant shall reimburse the Town for any fee or expense incurred in hiring subject matter
experts and attorneys to review whether a Solar Energy System proposed for siting pursuant to
Article 10 of the New York Public Service Law or Article 94-c of the Executive Law complies
with the substantive provision of this local law.
(b) The applicable fees for any review or permit required by this local law shall be set from time
to time by resolution of the Town Board.
(c) An Applicant for either state or local siting approval shall deliver to the Town Board, along
with its application, if local approval is sought, or one-hundred eighty (180) days prior to the
filing of an Article 10 or Article 94-C application, if applicable, an amount equal to one
percent (1%) of the estimated cost of the project (the “Initial Deposit”). This sum shall be held
by the Town in a non-interest-bearing account and shall be available to the Town to pay
consultants and attorneys engaged by the Town to assist in its review of and preparation
for an Article 10 or Article 94-c application. Should the Town be awarded intervenor funds, it
shall switch to and deplete those funds before making further use of the Initial Deposit.
Following the approval or denial of the state or local application, the Town shall return to the
Applicant any excess funds remaining in escrow. If the escrow account has been depleted
prior to approval or denial of the application, the Applicant shall deposit such funds
necessary for the Town to pay any outstanding consulting fees.
(13) Host Community Agreement. Prior to the issuance of a building permit for any Tier 3 or Tier 4
Solar Energy System, the Applicant for such system shall enter into a Host Community Agreement
with the Town of North Harmony, which shall:
(a) Contractually obligate the Applicant to comply with any terms and conditions of any special
use permit approval of the Town Board;
(b) Provide for payment by the Applicant to the Town of an impact fee to be used and applied by
the Town to pay for and/or offset the costs and impacts incurred by and/or arising due to the
development and/or operation of the solar energy system. The amount of such impact fee shall
be established by the Town Board by resolution adopted from time to time, based upon the
amount of energy produced by the project and such other factors as the Board shall determine;
(c) Provide for such other contractual requirements as may be necessary given the specific
elements of a particular project; and
(d) If the Applicant and/or owner of the project shall enter into an agreement with the Chautauqua
County Industrial Development Agency to provide for an abatement of real property taxes or
other tax exemption or abatement, be cross-defaulted with the agreements between the
Applicant and/or owner and the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency.
(14) Ownership Changes. If the owner or operator of the Solar Energy System changes or the owner
of the property changes, the special use permit shall remain in effect, provided that the successor
owner or operator assumes in writing all of the obligations of the special use permit, site plan
approval, and decommissioning plan. A new owner or operator of the Solar Energy System shall
notify the zoning enforcement officer of such change in ownership or operator within 30 days of
the ownership change.
(a) Solar Energy Systems and Solar Energy Equipment shall be certified under the applicable
electrical and/or building codes as required.
(b) Solar Energy Systems shall be maintained in good working order and in accordance with
industry standards. Site access shall be maintained, including snow removal at a level
acceptable to the local fire department and, if the Tier 3 Solar Energy System is located in an
ambulance district, the local ambulance corps.
(c) If Storage Batteries are included as part of the Solar Energy System, they shall meet the
requirements of any applicable zoning code and fire prevention and building code when in use
and, when no longer used, shall be disposed of in accordance with the laws and regulations of
the Town and any applicable federal, state, or county laws or regulations.
(16) Permit Time Frame and Abandonment.
(a) The Special Use Permit and site plan approval for a Solar Energy System shall be valid for a
period of 18 months, provided that construction has commenced. In the event construction is
not completed in accordance with the final site plan as may have been amended and approved,
as required by the Planning Board, within 18 months after approval, the applicant or the Town
may extend the time to complete construction for180 days. If the owner and/or operator fails
to perform substantial construction after 24 months, the approvals shall expire.
(3) Upon cessation of electricity generation of a Solar Energy System on a continuous basis for 12
months, the Town may notify and instruct the owner and/operator of the Solar Energy System
to implement the decommissioning plan. The decommissioning plan must be completed within
360 days of notification.
(4) If the owner and/or operator fails to comply with decommissioning upon any abandonment,
the Town may, at its discretion, utilize the bond and/or security for the removal of the Solar
Energy System and restoration of the site in accordance with the decommissioning plan.
(17) Enforcement. Any violation of this Solar Energy Law shall be subject to the same enforcement
requirements, including the civil and criminal penalties, provided for in the zoning or land use
regulations of the Town.
SECTION III. SEVERABILITY/ VALIDITY
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section or part of this law or the application thereof to any
person, individual, corporation, firm, partnership, entity or circumstance shall be adjudged by any court of
competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unconstitutional, such order or judgment shall not affect, impair,
effect or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence,
paragraph, subdivision, section or part of this law or in its application to the person, individual, corporation,
firm, partnership, entity or circumstance directly involved in the controversy in which such order or
judgment shall be rendered.
SECTION IV. EFFECTIVE DATE
This local law shall take effect immediately upon filing with the New York