§ 156.139  SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS.
   (A)   Purpose. To allow for the installation within the town of solar energy systems as defined in § 156.002, while recognizing the public safety as well as the land use and community compatibility issues that are associated with the structural components of these facilities. This shall be achieved by establishing standards to protect community and neighborhood aesthetics, public safety, and to limit adverse impacts of such systems on adjacent property owners.
   (B)   Types of solar energy systems permitted by zoning district. Solar energy systems, as defined in § 156.002, shall be permitted in all zoning districts within the town as an accessory use to any principal use structure.
   (C)   Use guidelines and dimensional requirements.
      (1)   Height.
         (a)   Roof-mounted solar energy systems:
            1.   Solar panels should generally relate to the slope of the roof surface to which they are attached. However, to account for the seasonal variation in solar angle and the necessity to tilt solar panels to achieve maximum efficiency of the solar energy system, the following provisions shall apply:
               a.   Solar panels mounted to a roof with a pitch of greater than 4 in 12 shall not be raised more than 3 feet above the plane of the finished roof surface to which they are attached.
               b.   Solar panels mounted to a roof with a pitch of less than 4 in 12 shall not be raised more than 5 feet above the plane of the finished roof surface to which they are attached.
            2.   Solar panels shall in no instance exceed the height limit of the zoning district in which they are located.
         (b)   The height of any ground mounted solar energy system including any mounts shall not exceed 10 feet when oriented at maximum tilt.
      (2)   Location and placement.
         (a)   Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be located in the rear and side yards only and in no instance shall be located forward of the front plane of the principal structure. In the rear and side yards, solar energy systems must meet the required setbacks for the principal structure. In the case of a corner lot, solar energy systems shall not be located forward of the side plane of the principal structure abutting the side street.
         (b)   Ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems shall be enclosed within a fence that is reasonably adequate to prevent access to the solar energy system or any ancillary equipment as required by the National Electrical Code.
         (c)   Roof-mounted solar energy systems shall in no instance extend beyond the edge of the roof to which they are attached.
      (3)   Lot coverage. Ground mounted solar energy systems shall not be counted as lot coverage; however, no more than 5% of total lot area may be covered with a solar energy system.
   (D)   Structural/installation requirements.
      (1)   All structural components supporting roof mounted solar energy systems shall be evaluated by a North Carolina Licensed Professional Engineer to ensure that the loads imposed by the solar energy system meet the design requirements established by the current North Carolina State Building Code, including the ability to withstand the force exerted by a 130-mph, 3-second wind gust.
      (2)   The installation and design of all solar energy systems shall comply with any applicable industry standards including standards for performance and safety and all electrical and mechanical components shall conform to relevant local, state and national codes. All components of a solar energy system must be listed and labeled by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
   (E)   Permitting requirements.
      (1)   No person shall erect any solar energy system without first obtaining a permit from the Director of Community Development in accordance with the procedures set forth in this section.
      (2)   All permit applications for solar energy systems shall include the following:
         (a)   Site plan depicting the proposed location of all components of the solar energy system as well as existing structures located on the subject property with dimensions showing compliance with minimum yard requirements;
         (b)   For utility interactive solar photovoltaic systems: a copy of the approved interconnection agreement with the local utility;
         (c)   Construction drawings of any roof mounted solar energy system depicting the design of the supporting structure, sealed by a North Carolina Licensed Professional Engineer certifying that the drawings conform to all structural requirements established by law;
         (d)   For solar photovoltaic systems, manufacturers specifications for all system components and an electrical diagram depicting the layout and interconnectivity of all electrical components;
         (e)   Construction plan;
         (f)   Operation and maintenance plans and specifications;
         (g)   Any county, state and federal permits required by law or regulation; and
         (h)   Other relevant information as may be reasonably requested to ensure compliance with the requirements of this section.
(Ord. 10-10, passed 1-5-2011; Am. Ord. 21-01, passed 6-2-2021)