Banner Elk To Regulate Solar and Wind Power With Proposed Ordinance, Public Hearing Set for August 13

Published Monday, July 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

By Jesse Wood

July 23, 2012. A public hearing regarding a proposed alternative energy ordinance is scheduled on Monday, August 13, at 7:00 p.m during Banner Elk Town Council’s regular monthly meeting. The proposed ordinance addresses solar and wind installations for both commercial and residential districts.

Because of the growing popularity of alternative energy, Cheryl Buchanan, official assistant to town manager, wrote the ordinance after extensive research of other municipal regulations.

“Alternative forms of energy have become more [prevalent]. You can drive just about anywhere and see that it’s growing,” Buchanan said. “The town felt like maybe we need to address it in advance and [also address] the impacts it could possibly have on the town. A lot of times it’s better to be progressive than reactive.”  

Buchanan said the ordinance doesn’t address hydro-electric power because there is so much regulation with waterways at the state level that any ordinances at the local level would be “superseded” by state laws.   

She also talked with officials with the Town of Boone to see how they addressed alternative energy ordinances. She said that “other than height restrictions and buffering, [the Town of Boone] didn’t really regulate it much.”  Buchanan said she then called around to other municipalities in the state, adding that “not many places in North Carolina do it.”  

She found a source that had “many, many” ordinances and looked for things that applied to Banner Elk and its terrain, and eventually discussed options with the town’s planning board. After the public hearing, the Banner Elk Town Council will vote on the ordinance.    

In its intention statement, the ordinance titled “Section 13 Alternative Energy Resources” states:

“The goal is to preserves the health, safety, and welfare of the community’s citizens by promoting the safe, effective and efficient use of active solar energy systems and systems used in the conversion of wind powered energy installed to reduce the on-site consumption of fossil fuels or utility-supplied electric energy. The Town’s goal of protecting its natural beauty is an important consideration in the substance of this section.”

Among the ordinance, regulations, for example, include the prohibition of ground-mounted PV (photovoltaic/solar panels) systems and require wind turbines to be less than 35 feet in height, which is the restriction for “everything in Banner Elk,” Buchanan said.

The wind turbine atop Bodenheimer Drive is 121 feet tall and falls within Boone regulations.

Read the entire proposed ordinance below.

SECTION 315 ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESOURCES 

315.1    Intent

The Town of Banner Elk recognizes the progressive and changing needs for alternative energy sources and wish to illustrate a desire to be proactive in addressing these new sources.  The goal is to preserves the health, safety, and welfare of the Community’s citizens by promoting the safe, effective and efficient use of active solar energy systems and systems used in the conversion of wind powered energy installed to reduce the on-site consumption of fossil fuels or utility-supplied electric energy.  The Town’s goal of protecting its natural beauty is an important consideration in the substance of this section. 

315.3  Application Requirements:  Submittal of a conditional use permit application as well as a site specific development plan for all systems shall include the following requirements of the Board of Adjustment:

(a). A plan denoting the dimensions of the subject property, proposed location of solar panel(s), the arrangement of solar panels, distance from the roof, pitch of the finished roof, and distance from the proposed site improvements to all property lines.

(b). The site plan should also show the required buffering as outlined in Section 502.3; while consideration should be made for reasonable solar access.   

(c). Submit horizontal and vertical elevation drawings to scale with dimensions.

(d). Approved solar components:  Solar energy system components must have a UL listing and must be designed with anti-reflective glare coating(s) to minimize solar glare.

(e). Written authorization, when applicable, from the public utility company acknowledging that it has been informed of the applicant’s intent to install an interconnected customer-owned generator and that it also approves of such connection(s).

(f). Compliance with North Carolina Building Code:  All active solar energy systems shall meet all requirements of the North Carolina State Building Code and shall be inspected by an Avery County Building Inspector.

(g). Compliance with National Electrical Code:  All photovoltaic systems shall comply with the National Electrical Code, current edition.

(h). All solar collection devices shall register with the Department of Emergency Services and shall submit a map of the solar collection devices and panel disconnect.

(i). Posting of a performance bond is required on the completed project and must be done within 10 days of approval.   The amount shall be determined by an Engineer licenses in the State of North Carolina and approved by Town Council.

(j). If the applicant ceases operation of the energy project or begins, but does not complete, construction of the project, the applicant shall restore the site to its previous appearance.  It shall be the responsibility of the property owner to maintain any installed solar system.  If failure to restore or maintain, the Town of Banner Elk shall have the authority to cash in the performance bond and perform the necessary work to restore the site. 

315.4   Accessory Solar Energy Collection Systems, Small Scale

Shall be permitted as accessory uses in the Residential Zoning Districts (R-1, R-1U, R-2) as roof mounted systems to existing structures or facilities provided they comply with minimum design standards outlined below.  Ground mounted systems are prohibited. Compliance with applicable standards shall be documented and shown on a site plan and submitted to the Zoning Administrator along with a Conditional Use Permit Application for the appropriate review and approval.

(1).  Residential Solar Collection.  An application for a proposed Small Scale Solar Collector/Energy System located at a residence must meet the following standards as an accessory use:

(a).  Roof-mounted solar collector systems shall meet the following location standards:

(i). Roof-mounted accessory solar collectors shall not extend above the ridge-cap or exceed the 35 feet height restrictions of this ordinance.

(ii.). The collector surface and mounting devices for roof-mounted systems shall not extend beyond the exterior perimeter of the building on which the system is mounted or built.

(iii). Exterior piping for solar hot water systems shall be allowed to extend beyond the perimeter of the building on a side yard exposure.

(iv). Roof mounted systems shall be located so as not to impede the ability of emergency personnel to access the roof for fire-fighting purposes.

(v).  Roof mounted systems shall be mounted parallel to the roof at the same pitch or no greater than 5 % steeper than the roof.

(vi).  Solar panels shall be placed such that concentrated solar radiation or glare shall not be directed onto other properties or public access areas.

(vii). Mounting hardware and framing shall be non-reflective or matte black in color.

(viii). Approved solar components:  Solar energy system components must have a UL listing and must be designed with anti-reflective glare coating(s) to minimize solar glare.

Section 315.5 Accessory Solar Energy Collection Systems, Small Scale

Shall be permitted as an accessory use in zoning districts other than residential (C-1, C-1P, C-2, M/U, M/E, R/C, G/O, M/I) as roof mounted systems to existing structures or facilities provided they comply with minimum design standards outlined below.  Accessory Solar Energy Collector Systems shall not be allowed in the Heritage Overlay District (HOD) unless approval is obtained from the Preserve America Commission, the Planning Board, and the Board of Adjustment.  Approval can be obtained through a Conditional Use Permit Application accompanied by a proper site plan. Compliance with applicable standards shall be documented and shown on a site plan and submitted to the Zoning Administrator with a Conditional Use Permit Application for review and approval.  Ground mounted systems are prohibited. 

(1).  Commercial Energy Solar Collection.  An application for a proposed Small Scale Solar Collector/Energy Systems in zoning districts other than residential must meet the following standards as an accessory use:

(a).  Roof-mounted solar collector systems shall meet the following location standards:

(i).  Roof-mounted accessory solar collectors shall not extend above the ridge-cap or exceed the 35-foot height restriction of this ordinance.

(ii.)   The collector surface and mounting devices for roof-mounted systems shall not extend beyond the exterior perimeter of the building on which the system is mounted or built.

(iii).  Exterior piping for solar hot water systems shall be allowed to extend beyond the perimeter of the building on a side yard exposure.

(iv).  Roof mounted systems shall be located so as not to impede the ability of emergency personnel to access the roof for fire-fighting purposes.

(v).  Roof mounted systems shall be mounted parallel to the roof at the same pitch or no greater than 5 % steeper than the roof.

(vi).  Solar panels shall be placed such that concentrated solar radiation or glare shall not be directed onto other properties or public access areas.

(vii). Sites where a flat roof is used to support the solar system must be shielded from view by a parapet or curtain wall tall enough to shield the panels and have a uniform look around the entire perimeter.

(viii). Exterior electrical wires and conduit shall be kept as a location to a side yard and any related conjunction boxes shall be shielded from public view while maintaining access to mechanical equipment.     

315.6 Accessory Solar Energy Collection System, Utility Scale (Production for Resale):

On a small scale, accessory use solar collectors in the zoning districts of C-1, C-1P, C-2, R/C, M/E, G/O, M/U and M/I may be used for on-site consumption as well as generating electrical energy for the purposes of resale back to the energy grid.  This type of use must meet the following standards as an accessory use:

(a). Systems designed for on-site consumption and the possibility of resale use shall be permitted on a flat roof only, no ground systems allowed.  

(b). Systems shall be screened from public view by a parapet or curtain wall around the entire perimeter of a flat roof, with consideration given to maintenance and solar access.

(c). System panels shall be tilted in the optimal direction and shall not exceed a 37° angle.

(d). Systems must be mounted on non-reflective or black matte frames to help reduce glare to neighboring properties. 

(c). System’s associated wiring and electrical boxes should be located inside the building.  If this is not possible, then they must be screened from public access and public view, while allowing maintenance access for the operator(s).

(d). System’s solar panels shall be placed such that the concentrated solar radiation or glare shall not be directed onto other properties or public access areas.

(e). Systems shall not cover more than 65% of a flat roof.  This allows for the calculation of other roof top mechanical or electrical equipment and solar access.

315.7 Accessory Wind Energy Conversion Systems, Small Scale shall be conditional as an accessory use in the Residential Zoning Districts (R-1, R-1U, R-2) as a single system whose main purpose is to supply electricity for on-site consumption.  It is essential that a site plan must first be submitted in order to determine if a property is eligible for a wind energy conversion system.  Roof mounted systems to existing structures or facilities are easier to regulate provided they comply with minimum design standards outlined below.  Compliance with applicable standards shall be documented and shown on a site plan and submitted to the Zoning Administrator along with a Conditional Use Permit Application for review and approval by the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment. 

(1).  Residential Wind Energy Conversion Systems:  A conditional use permit application, as well as a site plan, denoting the dimensions of the subject property for a proposed Small Scale Wind Energy Conversion System located at a residence must meet the following standards as an accessory use:

(a).  Roof-mounted wind energy conversion systems shall meet the following location standards:

(i).  Roof-mounted accessory wind energy conversion systems shall not extend above the ridge-cap of the roof or exceed the 35 feet height restrictions of this ordinance.

(ii).  The wind energy conversion system and mounting devices for roof-mounted systems shall not extend beyond the exterior perimeter of the roof of the building on which the system is mounted or built.

(iii).  Roof mounted systems shall be located so as not to impede the ability of emergency personnel to access the roof for fire-fighting purposes.

316.8 Accessory Wind Energy Conversion Systems, Utility Scale shall be conditional as an accessory use in the Medical/Educational Zoning District (M/E) for the purpose of on-site consumption in addition to the resale of energy back to the grid.  The M/E Zoning District has large enough parcels to accommodate this type of system with minimal impact to neighboring properties.  These systems require an environmental assessment by a professional Engineer, licensed in the State of North Carolina.  The environmental assessment shall be submitted along with a Conditional Use Permit to the Zoning Administrator for review by the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment.

(a). All wind energy conversion systems shall be located within a protected “fall zone.”  The “fall zone” shall not have any other structures located within the clearly defined area and the system shall be indicated on the site plan, with distances from the proposed site improvements to all property lines.  The setbacks in the zoning ordinance are in addition to the fall zone calculation.

(b).  Acceptable decibels (at the property line) should be no greater than (40dB.)

(c).  Clear cutting of property in order to install an accessory wind energy conversion system shall not be allowed without special permission from the Town’s Planning Board and Board of Adjustment. 

315.9    Completion and Decommissioning:

 Each accessory wind energy conversion system project must be completed within 18 months.  Should delays occur, the Zoning Administrator must approve an extension at six (6) month intervals. Should a project cease operation as an ongoing business entity, the site must be restored to the original agricultural natural state. A plan must be filed with the Zoning Administrator within 180 days after cessation, outlining how the structure will be removed, the time frame in which the work will be done, and the plan to return the property to its pre-existing state. A date for final removal must be given and approved by the Zoning Administrator in the plan.  

315.10 Violations

Each day that the site is not restored beyond the approved deadline for final removal shall be assessed a civil penalty of $50 per day fine.  Each day will be treated as a separate offense.  If the violation continues for a consecutive sixty (60) days: the Town of Banner Elk will then have the authority to cash in the performance bond and have the work performed.

315.2 Definitions

Accessory Solar Energy Collection Systems, Small Scale: Any device or combination of devices or elements which rely upon direct sunlight as an energy source, including but not limited to any substance or device which collects sunlight for generating energy for residential use.  The term shall include passive and active solar systems.

Accessory Solar Energy Collection Systems, Utility Scale:  Any device or combination of devices or elements which rely upon sunlight as an energy source, including but not limited to any substances or devices which collect sunlight for generating energy primarily for selling and/or returning electric energy to an electric distributor.  Energy generated by this system may be used to serve on site power needs as well.  Location of such high impact use is restricted to flat roofs and areas that cannot be seen from major thoroughfares.  This use is prohibited from slopes greater than 20 percent grade and shall not cover more than 50% of a property.

Accessory Wind Energy Conversion System:  A wind energy conversion system consisting of a wind turbine, tower, and associated control or conversion electronics, which has a rated capacity of less than or equal to hundred (100) kilowatts and is intended to reduce on-site consumption of utility power.  A system is considered a small wind energy system only if it supplies electrical power for on-site use with no intention of selling power back to the grid.

Accessory Wind Energy Conversion System, Utility Scale:  A wind energy conversion system consisting of a wind turbine, tower, and associated control or conversion electronics with the intention of selling power back to the grid.

Environmental Assessment:  a detailed examination of the applicant’s proposal as it relates to the project’s local environment with an emphasis on avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating adverse impacts.  An Engineer licensed in the State of North Carolina must provide an environmental assessment.

Fall Zone:  The National Academy of Sciences has recommended a height three times the height of the tower as a setback from the nearest structure in order to alleviate the concerns of safety and negative impact.  It may be possible to have a professional engineer calculate the specific “fall zone” for where the turbine could conceivably land if it were to topple. Additionally, the Town’s setback from both property lines and buildings that may lie on the same property should exceed the fall zone

Mechanical Equipment:  Any device associated with a solar or wind powered system, such as an outdoor electrical unit/control box that transfers the energy to the intended on-site structure.

Operator:  the entity responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Wind Energy Facility.     

Parapet Wall or Curtain Wall:  Is a wall-like barrier at the edge of a roof where extending above a roof, it may simply be a portion of the exterior wall that continues above the line of the roof surface, or may be a continuation of a vertical feature beneath the roof such as a fire wall.  This outer covering is non-structural and is used merely to keep the weather out or to be used as a screening device.  Because it is non-structural, it must be of like durability as the other external building materials.   

Photovoltaic (PV):  The technology that uses semiconductors to convert light directly to electricity.

Solar Glare:  The effect produced by light reflecting from a solar panel with an intensity sufficient to cause annoyance, discomfort, or loss in visual performance and visibility.

Solar Access:  A property owner’s right to have sunlight shine on the owner’s land. 

Wind Energy Facility:  is an electric generating facility, whose main purpose is to supply electricity, consisting of one or more Wind Turbines and other accessories.

Wind Power: is the conversion of wind energy into another form of energy.

Wind Turbine:  or windmill, is a wind energy conversion system that converts wind energy into electricity through the use of a wind turbine generator, and may include a nacelle, rotor, tower, guy wires, and pad transformer.

Wind Turbine Height:  the distance measured from grade at the center of the tower to the highest point of the turbine rotor or tip of the turbine blade when it reaches its highest elevation.

 

 

 

These are to be added to TABLE 308-1 USES.

 

 

R-1

R-1U

R-2

M-U

C-1

C-1P

C-2

M/E

R/C

G/O

CUD

M/I

Accessory Solar Energy Collection Systems, Small Scale

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

Accessory Solar Energy Collection Systems,

 Utility Scale

 

 

 

 

 

C

 

 

 

C

 

C

 

C

 

 

 

 

Hydroelectric Power

Wind Energy System

C

C

C

C

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