After taking several months to review the Town of Batavia’s regulations governing the installation of solar systems, a seven-member committee working with a Williamsville consulting firm is ready to share its recommendations with the public.
An informational session is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road.
The final draft of the town’s revised Solar Energy Local Law is available for viewing on the Town of Batavia website.
Town Board member Chad Zambito is the chair of the committee that also includes Town Building Inspector Dan Lang, Town Zoning Board members Steve Tanner, Don Partridge and Paul McCullough, Town Zoning Board of Appeals member Brittany Witkop and town resident Nancy Brach.
Drew Reilly of Wendel Companies served as the group’s consultant.
Zambito said the committee used the New York State Model Solar Energy Law as a basis for the town’s law, with some modifications. He said he hopes to receive feedback from residents at next week’s meeting.
According to the document, the town has the authority to develop a solar code through town law and Section 20 of the Municipal Home Rule 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.”
It advances a five-fold “statement of purpose” – emphasizing the need to capitalize on renewable energy, reducing electricity costs to residential and commercial customers, increasing employment and business development, mitigating solar’s effects on agriculture and the environment and linking to the town’s Comprehensive Plan.
The revised law also lists solar term definitions, time frames, safety guidelines, decommissioning (end of use) procedures, maintenance/fees and enforcement/penalty provisions.
The bulk of the document is devoted to “permitting requirements” for the four levels of solar systems – Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4.
- Tier 1 systems are defined as roof-mounted solar panels and new building-integrated systems, and are must meet design, glare and height guidelines.
- Tier 2 systems, such as accessory structures, also have to comply with glare, setback, height, screening, visibility, equipment placement and lot size requirements. Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 systems are permitted in all zoning districts and are not subject to site plan reviews as long as the specific criteria are in order.
- Tier 3 (larger) systems are permitted through the issuance of a Special Use Permit within the Agricultural Residential zoning district. They are subject to additional requirements, including maximum percentage of land use, written application, public hearing, underground utility lines, vehicular paths, signage, glare, lighting, tree cutting, screening/landscaping, noise, decommissioning and security.
- Tier 4 systems along the line of those proposed for widespread areas in Byron and Oakfield/Elba, also need a Special Use Permit. These may qualify for a Solar Energy System PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) and will require a Host Community Agreement as determined by the Town Board. Additional restrictions on large-scale Tier 4 systems include submission of an Agricultural Impact Statement, Economic Impact Analysis and Host Community Agreement proposal.