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(A) Special use permit. A special use permit is required from the township.
(B) Specification sheets. Provide the manufacturer’s specification sheets on all major system components. Include at a minimum: PV panels, inverters, DC combiner boxes, DC disconnect switches, fuses and circuit breakers, AC distribution panels, grounding system, and AC disconnect switches.
(C) Wire chart. A wire chart showing sizes and insulation types for all wires. Identify time frame, project life, development phases, likely markets for the generated energy, and possible future expansions.
(D) Minimum lot size. Large photovoltaic solar farm facilities shall not be constructed on parcels less than ten acres in size.
(E) Height restrictions. All photovoltaic panels located in a solar farm shall be restricted to a height of 15 feet.
(F) Setbacks. All photovoltaic solar panels and support structures associated with such facilities (including perimeter security fencing) shall be a minimum of ten feet from a side or rear property line and a minimum of 65 feet from any road or highway right-of-way.
(G) Maximum lot coverage. Maximum lot coverage restrictions shall not apply to photovoltaic solar panels. Any other regulated structures on the parcel are subject to maximum lot coverage restrictions.
(H) Safety/access. A security fence (height and material to be established through the special use permit) shall be placed around the perimeter of the solar power plant and electrical equipment and shall be locked. Knox boxes and keys shall be provided at locked entrances for emergency personnel access.
(I) Noise. No large photovoltaic solar farm facilities shall exceed 65 dBA as measured at the property line.
(J) Landscaping. Large photovoltaic solar farm facilities shall be required to install perimeter landscaping equal to one tree for each 25 feet of road or highway frontage. The equivalent of one evergreen tree shall be required along the sides and rear of such developments equal to one evergreen tree every 25 feet of property line when abutting existing homes or developed parcels. The Planning Commission may alter the landscaping requirement depending upon the location and existing plant material on the site. Trees shall be a minimum of four feet tall when planted and shall not shade any portion of the PV panels when full sized. Trees shall remain in good condition for the life of the solar farm.
(K) Local, state and federal permits. Large photovoltaic solar farm facilities shall be required to obtain all necessary permits from the U.S. government, state, and township, and comply with state codes.
(L) Electrical interconnections. All electrical interconnection or distribution lines shall comply with all applicable codes and local utility company interconnection requirements. Use of above ground transmission lines shall be prohibited within the site.
(M) Additional special use criteria. The following topics shall be addressed in a special use application for such large photovoltaic solar farm facilities in addition to the special use review criteria.
(N) The Planning Commission review. Because of the ever changing technical capabilities of photovoltaic solar panels and of new technology in general, the Planning Commission shall have the authority to review and consider alternatives in both dimensional requirements as well as physical development requirements found in this section. The Planning Commission shall not have the authority to review or to allow large photovoltaic solar farm facilities within any other zoning.
(O) Abandonment or decommissioning. Any utility-scale solar energy system which has reached the end of its useful life or has been abandoned consistent with this section of the Zoning Code shall be removed and parcel owners shall be required to restore the site to its original condition. The owner/operator shall physically remove the installation no more than 180 days after the date of discontinued operations. The owner/operator shall notify the township and the Planning Commission by certified mail of the proposed date of discontinued operations and plans for removal.
(1) Absent notice of a proposed date of decommissioning or written notice of extenuating circumstances, the utility-scale SES shall be considered abandoned when it fails to operate for more than one year. If the owner/operator fails to remove the installation in accordance with the requirements of this section within 180 days of abandonment of the proposed date of decommissioning, the township is permitted to enter the property and physically remove the installation.
(2) Decommissioning shall include physical removal of all utility-scale solar energy systems, structures, equipment, security barriers and transmission lines from the site.
(3) Decommissioning shall include disposal of all solid and hazardous waste in accordance with local, state and federal waste disposal regulations.
(4) Decommissioning shall include stabilization or re-vegetation of the site as necessary to minimize erosion.
(P) Financial surety. The applicant for a utility-scale solar energy system shall provide a form of surety, either through escrow account, bond or otherwise, to cover the cost of removal in the event township must remove the installation, in an amount and form determined to be reasonable by the Planning Commission, but in no event to exceed more than 125% of the cost of removal and compliance with the additional requirements set forth herein, as determined by the applicant. The applicant shall submit a fully inclusive estimate of the costs associated with removal, prepared by a qualified engineer. The amount shall include a mechanism for calculating increased removal costs due to inflation.
(Q) Locating a contractor (solar installer). There are two organizations of interest for any homeowner thinking about installing PV panels to generate their own electricity.
(1) Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA). GLREA has been active in the state, promoting all forms of renewable energy since 1991. Solar open house tours and state renewable energy news are announced on their Facebook page (http://www.2glrea.org/about/business-directory and https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesRenewableEnergyAssociation).
(2) North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). NAPCEP maintains a database of energy professionals who have passed their PV certification exam as a PV installation professional (http://www.nabcep.orq/certified-installer-locator).
(Ord. 30.0, passed 1-8-2017)