Article 19: Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations
(added at Special Town Meeting of October 29, 2012)
A. Purpose and Intent. The purpose of this bylaw is to promote the creation of new Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations by providing standards for the placement, design, construction, operation, monitoring, modification and removal of such installations to address public safety, minimize impacts on scenic, natural and historic resources, and provide adequate financial assurance for the eventual decommissioning of such installations.
The provisions set forth in this section shall apply to the construction, operation, and/or repair of Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations.
This article shall apply to Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations proposed for construction after the effective date of this article. This article shall also pertain to physical modifications that materially alter the type, configuration, or size of these installations or related equipment.
1. As-of-Right Siting: As-of-Right Siting shall mean that development may proceed without the need for a special permit, variance, amendment, waiver, or other discretionary approval. As-of-Right development will be subject to Site Plan Review pursuant to Article 13 of the Raynham Zoning Bylaws. As-of-right projects subject to Site Plan Review cannot be prohibited, but can be reasonably regulated by the Planning Board.
2. Building Inspector: The inspector of buildings and the Building Inspector designated by local bylaw charged with the enforcement of the zoning bylaws.
3. Building Permit: A construction permit issued by an authorized building inspector; the building permit evidences that the project is consistent with the state and federal building codes as well as local zoning bylaws, including those governing ground-mounted large scale solar photovoltaic installations.
4. Designated Location: The locations designated by the Town of Raynham where ground-mounted large scale solar photovoltaic installations may be sited as-of-right but subject to Planning Board Site Plan Review as defined by Article 13 of the Town of Raynham Zoning Bylaws are the Business District, Designated Development District, Industrial District, and Light Industrial District. Ground-mounted large scale solar photovoltaic installations may be sited in Residential A District, Residential B District, Residential C District, Residential D District, Farm and Forest District and Forest District II if granted a Special Permit and subject to Site Plan Review by the Raynham Planning Board pursuant to Article 7 and Article 13 of Town of Raynham Zoning Bylaws. Large-scale ground-mounted photovoltaic installations are not allowed in the Wetland District. Said locations are shown on a Zoning Map pursuant to MGL Ch. 40A, Section 4. This map is hereby made part of this Zoning Bylaw and is on file in the Office of the Town Clerk.
5. Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation: A solar photovoltaic system that is structurally mounted on the ground and is not roof-mounted, and has a minimum nameplate capacity of 60k WDC. All Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations will require a contract with Taunton Municipal Light TMLP prior to approval by the Town of Raynham.
6. Site Plan Review: A review by the Raynham Planning Board pursuant to Article 13 of the Town of Raynham Zoning Bylaws.
7. Site Plan Review Authority: For the purposes of this bylaw the Site Plan Review Authority is the Raynham Planning Board.
8. Zoning Enforcement Authority: The person charged with enforcing the Town of Raynham Zoning bylaws.
9. On-Site Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation: A solar photovoltaic installation that is constructed at a location where other uses occur at the underlying property.
10. Nameplate Capacity: The maximum rated output of the electric power production of the photovoltaic system in Direct Current (DC).
11. Fees. Fees will be required for Site Plan Review, Special Permit (where applicable), Project Review Fee and a Building Permit Fee. See Raynham Planning Board Rules and Regulations Governing Fees.
C. Site plan review. Prior to construction, installation or modification, Large–Scale Ground Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations shall undergo Site Plan Review by the Planning Board as provided below.
1. Compliance with Laws, Ordinances and Regulations.
The construction and operation of all Large–Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations shall be consistent with all applicable local, state and federal requirements, including but not limited to all applicable safety, construction, electrical, and communications requirements. All buildings and fixtures forming part of the installation shall be constructed in accordance with the State Building Code. No Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation shall be constructed, installed or modified without first obtaining a building permit.
2. Site Plan Review Application and Plan Requirements.
2.1 Eleven (11) copies of a properly executed application for Site Plan Review shall be filed with the Planning Board. Application must include name, address, phone number of system installer, project proponent and all co-proponents and property owners, if any.
2.2 Eleven (11) copies of site plan(s), prepared by a Professional Engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at a scale of one inch equals forty feet (1” = 40') shall be filed with the Planning Board, including:
a. North arrow and locus map;
b. Property boundaries;
c. Name/Description of project;
d. Topography, both existing and proposed, including proposed drainage;
e. Zoning designation;
f. Location of proposed structures, drives, etc., including setbacks;
g. Sign(s) location(s);
h. Landscaping, both existing and proposed;
i. Lighting, including locations, type and wattage.
2.3 Eleven (11) copies of plans or drawings of the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation prepared by a Registered Professional Engineer licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, showing the proposed layout of the system and any potential shading from nearby structures.
2.4 Eleven (11) copies of the one or three line electrical diagram detailing the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation, associated components, and electrical interconnection methods, with all National Electrical Code compliant disconnects and overcurrent devices.
2.5 Eleven (11) copies of the documentation of the major system components to be used, including the PV panels, mounting system, and inverter(s);
2.6 Eleven (11) copies of the documentation of actual or prospective access and control of the project site sufficient to allow for construction and operation of the proposed installation.
2.7 Eleven (11) copies of an operation and maintenance plan.
2.8 Eleven (11) copies of proof of liability insurance sufficient in the opinion of the Raynham Planning Board.
2.9 Site control. The project proponent shall submit documentation of actual or prospective access and control for the project site sufficient to allow for construction and operation of the proposed solar photovoltaic installation
3.0 Waiver of Requirements. Upon written request submitted as part of the application, the Planning Board may waive any requirements.
D. For Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations that require a Special Permit, the Planning Board shall serve as the Special Permit Granting Authority.
E. Operation & Maintenance Plan. The project proponent shall submit a plan for the operation and maintenance of the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation, which shall include measures for maintaining safe access to the installation, storm water controls, as well as general procedures for operational maintenance of the installation.
F. No Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation shall be constructed until evidence has been given to the Planning Board that the utility company that operates the electrical grid, the Taunton Municipal Light Plant, where the installation is to be located has signed an agreement with owner of the project to purchase the electricity generated by this installation over the entire period of the contract with the property owner on whose land the project will be constructed.
G. Dimension and Density Requirements.
1. Setbacks. Setbacks from all boundary lines shall be a minimum of fifty feet (50'). The minimum lot and minimum yard dimensions set out in Article 5.1 do not apply.
2. Buffer requirement. If permitted by special permit in residential districts and/or farm and forest districts, the entire perimeter of the project shall have a vegetated buffer that will screen the view of the large-scale ground-mounted solar photovoltaic installation. The buffer must be sufficiently dense to block the view of the project from all dwellings abutting the property. In all other districts where site plan approval is given, the project shall have a vegetated buffer that will screen the view of the Large-scale Ground-mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation from the boundary of any abutting residential premises and from the boundary of an abutting residential district and/or farm and forest district.
3. Appurtenant Structures. All appurtenant structures to Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations shall be subject to the provisions of the Town of Raynham Zoning By-laws for accessory buildings and/or uses concerning the bulk and height of structures, and setbacks. All such appurtenant structures, including but not limited to, equipment shelters, storage facilities, transformers, and substations, shall be architecturally compatible with each other. Whenever reasonable, structures should be shaded from view by vegetation and/or joined or clustered to avoid adverse visual impacts.
4. Fencing. The entire perimeter must be fenced with chain link fencing and it must be at least 6’ in height and contain a locked entrance(s).
5. Maximum size. The maximum size of a Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation in Raynham will be a 6 megawatt installation.
H. Design Standards.
1. Lighting. Lighting of Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations shall be consistent with local, state and federal law. Lighting of other parts of the installation, such as appurtenant structures, shall be limited to that required for safety and operational purposes, and shall be reasonably shielded from abutting properties. Where feasible, lighting of the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation shall be directed downward and shall incorporate full cut-off fixtures to reduce light pollution.
2. Signage. Signs on Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations shall comply with a Raynham Zoning Bylaws. A sign that identifies the owner and provides a 24-hour emergency contact phone number shall be required.
Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations shall not be used for displaying any advertising except for reasonable identification of the manufacturer or operator of the installation.
3. Utility Connections. Reasonable efforts, as determined by the Planning Board, shall be made to bury underground all cable connections for the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation, depending on appropriate soil conditions, shape, and topography of the site and any requirements of the utility provider. Electrical transformers for utility interconnections may be above ground if required by the utility provider.
I. Safety and Environmental Standards.
1. Emergency Services. The Large–Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation owner or operator shall provide a copy of the project summary, electrical schematic, and site plan to the Raynham Fire Chief. Upon request, the owner or operator shall cooperate with local emergency services in developing an emergency response plan. All means of shutting down the installation shall be clearly marked. The owner or operator shall identify a responsible person for public inquiries throughout the life of the installation.
2. Land Clearing, Soil Erosion and Habitat Impacts. Under all Raynham zoning districts clearing of natural vegetation shall be limited to what is necessary for the construction, operation and maintenance of the Large–Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation or otherwise prescribed by applicable laws, regulations, and bylaws.
J. Monitoring and Maintenance.
1. Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation Conditions. The Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation owner or operator shall maintain the facility in good condition. Maintenance shall include, but not be limited to, painting, structural repairs, and integrity of security measures. Site access shall be maintained to a level acceptable to the Raynham Fire Chief and Emergency Medical Services. The owner or operator shall be responsible for the cost of maintaining the installation and any access road(s), unless accepted as a public way.
2. Modifications. All material modifications to a Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation made after issuance of the required building permit shall require site plan approval by the Planning Board, and also modification of the special permit if a special permit was previously granted.
K. Abandonment and Decommissioning.
1. Removal Requirements. Any Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation which has reached the end of its useful life or has been abandoned shall be removed. The owner or operator shall physically remove the installation no more than 150 days after the date of discontinued operations. The owner or operator shall notify the Site Plan Review Authority by certified mail of the proposed date of discontinued operations and plans for removal at least ninety (90) days prior to the date of discontinued operations. Decommissioning shall consist of:
1.1 Physical removal of all Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations, structures, equipment, security barriers and transmission lines from the site.
1.2 Disposal of all solid and hazardous waste in accordance with local, state, and federal waste disposal regulations.
1.3 Stabilization or re-vegetation of the site as necessary to minimize erosion. The Site Plan Review Authority may allow the owner or operator to leave landscaping or designated below-grade foundations in order to minimize erosion and disruption to vegetation.
2. Abandonment. Absent notice of a proposed date of decommissioning or written notice of extenuating circumstances, the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation shall be considered abandoned when it fails to operate for more than one (1) year without the written consent of the Planning Board, at which time the dismantling and removal shall be carried out at the owner’s expense. If the owner or operator of the Large-Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installation fails to remove the installation in accordance with the requirements of this section within 150 days of abandonment or the proposed date of decommissioning, the town may enter the property and physically remove the installation.