Zoners Allow Ground
The Orange Plan and Zoning Commission, at its May 16 meeting, voted to allow ground-mounted solar panels on residential lots, as long as they are located in the back of a house. Zoning Enforcement Officer Jack Demirjian had asked the commissioners to consider some regulation around this issue, as he had been getting phone calls from residents planning to install such arrays.
"Uses accessory to a dwelling may include … solar and other renewable forms of energy and energy conservation structures and buildings for such uses, but only when such uses are for the personal and family use of the occupants of the dwelling and their guests," reads the addition to §383-26 I. A little further down, it adds that "no part of a solar and other renewable forms of energy and energy conservation structure shall be located in front of the primary structure or in any area between a street line and the primary structure."
These installations do not permit large solar farms, but are designed for personal use of a family living at a particular address. Without this amendment to the regulation, ground mounted solar installations were not mentioned in the Zoning regs and were thus not permitted.
Demirjian had inquired with neighboring towns, where these types of installation are treated like any other accessory building. Those cannot exceed a height of 15 feet nor exceed a ground coverage of 300 square feet, unless allowed by special use permit.
"I am satisfied with that language," said Chairman Oscar Parente.