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Erie's zoning code goes green?: Meeting to focus on solar power

Technology exists to generate electricity through wind turbines and solar panels. But Erie's zoning code hasn't caught up -- yet. Erie City Council will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the code that would allow for the construction and installation of "urban solar farms," or large-scale, commercial energy-generation facilities, within the city limits.

Technology exists to generate electricity through wind turbines and solar panels.

But Erie's zoning code hasn't caught up -- yet.

Erie City Council will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the code that would allow for the construction and installation of "urban solar farms," or large-scale, commercial energy-generation facilities, within the city limits.

The amendment also would outline regulations for the construction and installation of smaller solar collection systems, including a solar panel or similar device.

The hearing, scheduled Jan. 6, follows a similar public hearing held Dec. 16 on another proposed amendment that would allow for the construction and installation of commercial wind farms and residential wind turbines.

Councilwoman Jessica Horan-Kunco, who has pushed for the changes, said that wind and solar technology is becoming more economically feasible, and that the city wants to be ready when residents or businesses want to take advantage of alternative energy.

"We want to encourage people who are interested in pursuing alternative energy methods," Horan-Kunco said. "But we want to have the regulations in place that will make them able... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Technology exists to generate electricity through wind turbines and solar panels.

But Erie's zoning code hasn't caught up -- yet.

Erie City Council will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the code that would allow for the construction and installation of "urban solar farms," or large-scale, commercial energy-generation facilities, within the city limits.

The amendment also would outline regulations for the construction and installation of smaller solar collection systems, including a solar panel or similar device.

The hearing, scheduled Jan. 6, follows a similar public hearing held Dec. 16 on another proposed amendment that would allow for the construction and installation of commercial wind farms and residential wind turbines.

Councilwoman Jessica Horan-Kunco, who has pushed for the changes, said that wind and solar technology is becoming more economically feasible, and that the city wants to be ready when residents or businesses want to take advantage of alternative energy.

"We want to encourage people who are interested in pursuing alternative energy methods," Horan-Kunco said. "But we want to have the regulations in place that will make them able to coexist within our city.

"Without having these zoning regulations, we aren't really prepared for those who might come and apply for wind or solar uses," she said.

Under the proposed solar amendment, a solar farm is defined as an "energy generation facility or area of land principally used to convert solar energy to electricity."

Solar farms would be allowed in M-1, M-2 and W-M manufacturing districts and in industrial parks, as long as they conform to certain restrictions in those districts, including height and setback requirements.

The amendment also requires that any farm be enclosed with perimeter fencing, and that warning signage be posted at the site. Any farm that has not been active and in continuous service for one year must be removed at the owner's expense, and the site restored to its natural condition within six months after removal.

Smaller solar collection systems are defined as "a panel or other solar energy device, the primary purpose of which is to provide for the collection, inversion, storage and distribution of solar energy for electricity generation, space heating, space cooling or water heating."

Under the proposed amendment, solar collection systems would be allowed in all zoning districts, with certain restrictions.

Free-standing solar panels would be permitted only in rear and side yards, and those located on the ground or attached to framework on the ground would be limited to 20 feet in height.

The proposed wind amendments include similar restrictions.

The amendment would allow wind farms for the purpose of power generation in M-1, M-2 and W-M, or manufacturing districts, and in industrial parks as long as the wind system is no taller than 160 feet, among other restrictions.

Any wind farm also must be set back from the property line by a length equaling 1.1 times the height of the farm -- meaning, for example, that a 100-foot-tall farm must be set back 110 feet from the property line.

Small wind turbines to offset energy usage would be allowed in all zoning districts as long as they meet certain requirements.

"We tried to pass it so that, five years from now, if they're made to put on the roof, you can do it," city Zoning Officer Armand Chimenti said.

Council could take a first vote on the wind amendments as early as Jan. 6, and on the solar amendments as early as Jan. 20.


Source: http://dailyme.com/story/20...

DEC 28 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23849-erie-s-zoning-code-goes-green-meeting-to-focus-on-solar-power
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