LITTLE FALLS — Township officials want to set regulations for how solar and wind energy are used throughout the municipality.
Two ordinances were discussed during Little Falls Township Council meetings this past winter, one regarding solar and the other regarding wind energy systems.
The ordinances were discussed again during Monday’s council meeting but a decision was not made that night on whether they should be introduced. They will be discussed again during a future meeting.
If introduced and later approved, the ordinances would set standards for how solar and wind energy are used in residential and non-residential zones.
Little Falls Council President Louis Fontana said creating the ordinances is a way for the township to be proactive in case issues arise in the future with solar and wind energy projects.
"As solar and wind energy projects become more popular, we want to try and protect the town and put in place rules and regulations regarding them," said Fontana.
Under the proposed solar ordinance, ground-mounted solar energy systems cannot be located in a front yard, on an easement or utility line, or along the front wall of a building in residential zones. The systems also cannot exceed the total height permitted in these zones.
Similar regulations are proposed for roof-mounted solar energy systems in non-residential zones. They cannot be taller than the peak of a roof or the maximum building height permitted.
The proposed wind energy ordinance would regulate wind energy on residential properties, but council members said during their meeting Jan. 11 that it should be rewritten to also include non-residential properties. Jeff Janota, the township’s planner, is looking into how to revamp the ordinance so it includes all properties, but to date no changes have been made to what was presented about either the wind or solar ordinance.
Currently, Little Falls does not have standards in place for governing the use of solar and wind energy systems, but the township’s 2013 master plan reexamination report advises ordinances be created to govern their usage.
In January 2010, the New Jersey State Legislature adopted bill S1202/A3062, which was created to promote renewable energy, according to the reexamination report.
Other legislation, called S-921, prohibits solar panels from being installed on buildings and driveways with impervious coverage, according to the report.
The report also talked about an amendment to the Municipal Land Use Law in 2011 that permits renewable energy facilities in industrial zones with at least 20 acres that are not individually owned.
The usage of solar energy has increased around North Jersey within recent years. Some homes in Little Falls have solar panels, but some township residents believe they should be flush-mounted so they are more visually-appealing.
In recent years, wind farms have made headlines in the news. Plans to install a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City were rejected by the state Board of Public Utilities two years ago, according to a story on nj.com.
This past January, NorthJersey .com reported that the companies — US Wind Inc. and RES Americas — will be spending a year on studying the ocean floor to determine the best way to build a wind farm and on gathering more information about the wind capacity in the area.