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Clarence adopts regulations for solar systems

The Town of Clarence has joined other communities in adopting a solar code that restricts commercial and residential ground-mounted solar systems. The code was adopted after an eight-month moratorium.

The law only applies to ground-mounted solar systems, said Jonathan Bleuer, assistant director of community development.

He said there are no projects in the wings, but the town felt it needed to "get out in front of it."

The code attempts to address the potential for a ground-mounted system to become an eyesore. Applications must include a site plan and engineering drawings. Screenings and landscaping are required to minimize visibility from the road and neighboring properties. Federal Aviation standards concerning glint and glare are also part of the code. Systems must be installed by a qualified solar installer

"The town wanted to allow for solar. We see the future in that, but we wanted to protect the residents, the community character and make sure that we are doing our best to protect our agricultural land," said Bleuer.

The code was developed by the Planning Board and addresses different types of solar systems - distinguishing between a commercial system, which sells power back to the grid for income or  residential and single-property systems, which produce energy for one user and transmits excess power back to the grid on a limited basis.

Commercial systems are only permitted in an industrial business park zone and single-property owner systems are not permitted on less than 5 acres. Setbacks, building code and electrical code compliance, height restrictions and submissions of landscaping plans are among the items addressed in the solar code. Systems and sites may not be used for displaying advertising.

Bleuer said solar farms have threatened other communities' agricultural lands.

"Our farm land is very important. We've done a lot to preserve that over the past 12 years," Bleuer said. "We want to encourage solar production to be used on site - not more that a business or homeowner can actually use."

The code was adopted by the Town Board last week and went into effect immediately.






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