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Solar farms are subject to all the following regulations:
(A) Height. Buildings are subject to the height limits of the subject zoning district. Ground-mounted solar energy systems may not exceed 25 feet in height when oriented at maximum tilt.
(B) Setbacks. Buildings are subject to the setback regulations of the subject zoning district. Ground-mounted solar energy systems must be set back at least 25 feet from all property lines or in accordance with the setback regulations of the subject zoning district, whichever results in a greater setback.
(C) Visual screening. Ground- mounted mechanical equipment that is visible outside the perimeter of the solar farm must be screened from view of roads and dwelling units located within 1,000 feet in accordance with the provisions of this subsection (C). Required screening may be located within required setbacks and must comply with one of the following options or a similar alternative approved by the County Board at the time of special use permit approval:
(1) A landscaped area at least ten feet in width with at least one shrub per five linear feet, plus at least one evergreen tree per 25 linear feet of perimeter area. Shrubs must be at least three feet in height at time of planting. Evergreen trees must be at least five feet in height at time of planting; or
(2) Provide a landscaped area at least ten feet in width with a solid wall or privacy fence with a minimum height of six feet. At least one evergreen tree is required per 30 linear feet of fence or wall.
(D) Glare. Solar energy systems must be designed, constructed and sited to minimize glare or reflections on adjacent properties and roadways and to not interfere with traffic, including air traffic, or otherwise create a safety hazard.
(E) Soil and ground cover.
(1) Top soils shall not be removed from the site during development unless the removal is expressly approved as part of the special use permit.
(2) Perennial vegetative ground cover must be maintained or established in all areas containing solar arrays and in required setbacks to prevent erosion and manage run-off.
(F) Security barrier. Solar energy systems that are part of a solar farm must be enclosed by perimeter security fencing or other county-approved barrier with a minimum height of at least seven feet. The use of barbed wire or razor wire is prohibited unless otherwise expressly at the time of special use perrnit approval.
(G) Approved solar components. Electric system components must have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) listing.
(H) Lighting. Solar farms may not be artificially illuminated, unless required by the FAA or other applicable government agency or authority.
(I) Underground utilities. On-site power lines and utility connections must be placed underground unless otherwise expressly approved as part of the special use permit.
(J) Abandonment and decommissioning. Solar farms that do not produce energy for a continuous period of one year or more are presumed to have been abandoned.
(1) Any solar farm that has been abandoned must be decommissioned and removed within 180 days.
(2) Decommissioning must consist of:
(a) Physical removal of all solar photovoltaic installations, structures, equipment, security barriers and transmission lines from the site.
(b) Recycling or disposal of all solid and hazardous waste in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations.
(c) Stabilization or re- vegetation of the site as necessary to minimize erosion. The Zoning Administrator is authorized to allow the owner or operator to leave landscaping or designated below-grade foundations in place in order to minimize erosion and disruption to vegetation.
(3) Decommissioning plan.
(a) A decommissioning plan outlining the anticipated means and costs of removing the solar farm must be submitted, with the special use permit application.
(b) The decommissioning plan should ensure that the owner or operator properly removes the equipment and facilities upon the end of project life or after their useful life. The plan must include provisions for the removal of all structures and foundations, the removal of all electrical transmission components and the restoration of soil and vegetation.
(c) The owner/operator must provide a present-day decommissioning cost estimate and identify the parties responsible for decommissioning.
(d) The owner/operator must submit a copy of the decommissioning plan to all property owners within the boundaries of the special use permit. Before issuance of a zoning certificate, the subject property owners must provide to the Zoning Administrator signed affidavits acknowledging receipt of the decommissioning plan and their respective responsibility for decommissioning costs.
(K) Monitoring and maintenance. The owner/operator of the solar farm is responsible for keeping the facility in safe, sound and well-maintained condition, including painting, grounds keeping, structural repairs, internal access drives and the integrity of security measures.
(L) Avoidance and mitigation of damages to public infrastructure.
(1) Roads. The owner/operator must identify all roads to be used for the purpose of transporting components and equipment for construction, operation or maintenance of the solar farm and obtain applicable permits from the applicable highway authority prior to construction.
(2) Existing road conditions. The owner/operator must conduct a pre-construction survey, in coordination with the applicable highway authority to determine existing road conditions. The pre-construction survey must include photographs and a written agreement to document the condition of the roads and applicable public facilities. The owner/operator is responsible for on-going road maintenance and dust-control measures identified by the applicable highway authority during all phases of construction and installation.
(3) Drainage system. The owner/operator is responsible for identifying the location of all subsurface drainage systems and for immediately repairing damage to drain tiles and other drainage systems that result from construction, operation, or maintenance of the solar farm.
(M) Financial assurance. The owner/operator must provide reasonable evidence of financial ability to construct the solar farm and all required improvements, as determined by the County Board at the time of special use permit approval.
(N) Notice of development letters. The owner/operator must mail letters to Will County Board representatives for the district in which the solar farm is to be built as well as to the respective township, Will/South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District, and to all municipalities located within 1.5 miles of the solar farm.
(O) Submittal requirements. All applications for special use permit approval must include the following information in addition to the customary submittal requirements for special use permit applications.
(1) Site plan showing property lines and physical features, including roads, setbacks, floodplain (if applicable), buildings, solar panels, right-of-way, and zoning district designation for the subject property and all abutting properties.
(2) Pre-construction survey and proposed routes as defined in subsection (K) of this section.
(3) Number, location, and spacing of solar panels/arrays.
(4) Product cut-sheets.
(5) Proposed locations of underground or overhead electric lines.
(6) Identification of access and traffic control of the project site, during construction and operation of the facility.
(7) Interconnection service agreement or evidence of filing required interconnection service applications with the electric utility.
(8) Operation and maintenance plan of the solar farm, including measures for maintaining safe access to the installation, stormwater controls, as well as general procedures for operation and maintenance of the installation.
(9) Proof of liability insurance.
(10) Emergency services plan, including but not limited to the project summary, electrical schematic and means of shutting down energy systems throughout the life of the installation.
(11) Decommissioning plan in accordance with subsection (J) of this section.
(12) Redacted lease copy.
(13) Copy of notice of development letters to Will County Board representatives for the district in which the solar farm is to be built.
(14) Copy of the notice of development letters required by this section.
(P) Prohibited systems. Concentrated solar power systems are prohibited.
(Ord. 18-1, passed 1-18-2018)