Pennsylvania Township works to facilitate solar permitting

Pennsylvania’s East Drumore Township residents could soon find it easier to make use of solar energy systems through an alternative energy zoning ordinance.

As part of the previously approved plan, Community Energy, a nearby solar farm, agreed to pay legal fees to draft the township’s new alternative energy ordinance. If approved, the ordinance would provide for “small” solar energy facilities of 20 kilowatts or less. Small solar facilities would be considered a right, and residents would not have to apply for a special exception or conditional-use permit.

The small units would be permitted in all zoning districts as long as they are installed on an existing structure. The solar units could also be freestanding in a yard. However, all setback requirements must be met. If approved, the ordinance would also provide for “medium” solar facilities that range from 20 to 200 kilowatts. These units would be permitted by right and would allow residents who install them to participate in PPL’s net metering program.

The net metering program allows a property owner to use electric generating credits for all electric bills that are in their name within a two-mile radius.

The medium facilities would be permitted for nonresidential use only. They would be permitted in agricultural, commercial, industrial, flood plain and steep slope areas, but would not be allowed to exceed 1 acre in prime soils that include Class 1 through Class 3 soils. Medium solar facilities would also be permitted on buildings only in R-1 and R-2 residential zones.

If approved, the ordinance would provide for “large” solar facilities of more than 200 kilowatts as a conditional use unless the panels are installed on existing impervious surfaces such as roofs and parking areas.

In the agricultural district, the solar facilities would be allowed only on buildings used for agricultural purposes. No free-standing facilities would be allowed in the agricultural district. The facilities would be allowed in commercial and industrial districts without limitations.

The proposed ordinance would also address manure digesters. The group is still working on defining “manure digesters.”  A farmer would be required to ensure that no more than 25 percent of the waste is generated off of the property or leased properties being farmed by the same person for “farm-related” manure digesters. These would be limited to the agricultural district and would be permitted as a right.

The planning commission, solicitor and supervisors will continue work on the proposed ordinance at a commission meeting on Tuesday, May 31.
Source: Lancaster Online

 

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