The Fayette City Council has adopted a new Solar Energy Systems Ordinance. 



162.01    Purpose                                              162.03      Permit Process   

162.02    Definitions                                           162.04      Solar Energy System Requirements    

162.01 PURPOSE. The purpose of this chapter is to provide regulations for construction, instillation, and operation of solar energy systems in the city limits of Fayette, Iowa.

162.02 DEFINITIONS. For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

  1. Accessory Structure: A structure which is on the same lot or parcel of property as a principal structure and the use of which is incidental to the use of the principal structure.
  2. Ground-Mounted Solar Energy System: Solar energy system that is free standing, directly installed to the ground, and is not supported by any building, accessory, or dwelling. For the purposes of this chapter, solar powered lights used to illuminate exterior areas shall not be included in this definition.
  3. Passive Solar Energy System: A system that captures solar light or heat without transforming it to another form of energy or transferring the energy via heat exchanger.
  4. Principal Structure: The main structure or building on a lot or parcel in which the primary permitted use by right occurs.
  5. Roof-Mounted Solar Energy System: A solar energy system mounted directly abutting the roof or as modules fixed to frames which can be tilted toward the south t an optimal angle.
  6. Solar Energy System: A device or structural design feature, a substantial purpose of which is to provide daylight for interior lighting or provide for the collection, storage and distribution of solar energy for space heating or cooling, electricity generation or water heating.

162.03 PERMIT PROCESS. All owners of residential or commercial property shall acquire a building permit from the City of Fayette and provide a shade report or equivalent documentation from a licensed solar installer prior to construction of solar energy systems. Those failing to acquire a building permit are subject to fines as noted in the code of ordinances. Roof-mounted Solar Energy Systems need only an approved building permit as long as all requirements are met. Ground-Mounted Solar Energy Systems require approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission, then approval from the City Council. The Planning and Zoning Commission shall hold a public hearing with the same requirements as in Chapter 22 in the Fayette Code of Ordinances. This shall also include notification of all property owners within 250 feet.  If a variance is needed for any part of the solar energy system to be installed on the property, after approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council, the owners of the property will also need approval from the Board of Adjustment, as stated in Chapter 165.


  (A) Height: Roof-mounted solar energy systems in residential applications shall not be higher than 10 inches above the roof at any point. Ground-mounted solar energy systems in residential applications shall not exceed 15 feet in height from grade at total extended height.

  (B) Location: The locations of ground mounted systems should avoid being in eyesight from the street. Roof-mounted systems must be placed on rear or side-facing roofs, which do not front any public street, unless a shade report or equivalent documentation from a licensed solar installer can be shown that such locations would be ineffective or impractical.

  (C) Setbacks: Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall meet all set back requirements for the applicable zoning district for accessory structures. Roof-mounted systems shall not extend beyond the exterior perimeter of the building on which the system is mounted.

  (D) Easements: Solar energy systems shall not encroach on any platted public easement.

  (E) Screening: Solar energy systems shall be screened from street view to the extent possible without reducing their efficiency. The applicant shall submit a landscaping plan with building permit application for ground-mounted solar energy systems.

  (F) Aesthetics: All solar energy systems shall use colors that blend with the surrounding settings. Reflection angles from collector surfaces shall be oriented away from neighboring windows.

  (G) Maximum Area of unit. Ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be treated as an accessory structure and thus are limited in area to the accessory structure limitations as set by the City Code. The total size of all solar energy systems may not produce any amount of energy, addition to other alternative energy systems beyond the average annual consumption.

  (H) Compliance with International Building Code: Building permit applications for ground-mounted solar energy systems shall be accompanied by standard drawings of the solar energy system structure, including the panels, base, and footings. For roof-mounted applications, standard drawings showing the capability of a roof to support such a proposal shall be submitted for review. An engineering analysis of the system showing compliance with the International Building Code and certified by a licensed professional engineer shall also be submitted. This analysis is frequently supplied by the manufacturer. Wet stamps shall not be required.

  (I) Compliance with Federal Regulations: Solar energy systems must comply with applicable Federal regulations.

  (J) Compliance with National Electric Code: Building permit applications for solar energy systems shall be accompanied by a line drawing of the electrical components in sufficient detail to allow for a determination that the manner of installation conforms to the National Electrical Code

  (K) Utility Notification: No solar energy system shall be installed until evidence has been given that the electric utility provider has been informed of the customer's intent to install an interconnected customer-owned generator and the customer can show proof that they have received, understand and agree to abide by the utility's requirements for net metering and distributed generation installation. A disconnect will be required at the time of installation and the electric utility provider shall be notified of this installation. A written statement from the utility company shall be presented at the time of applying for a construction building permit showing compliance with the disconnect requirement.

  (L) Safety: Feeder lines, Utility connects, and any other feature shall have appropriate markings, warnings, and safety features to prevent harm to persons, wildlife, or personal property.

  (M) General Requirements on Operation: The owner of a solar energy system shall defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the City of Fayette and their officials from and against any and all claims, demands, losses, suits, causes of action, damages, injuries, costs, expenses, and liabilities whatsoever including attorney fees arising out of the actions or omissions of the operator or the operator's contractors concerning the construction or operation of the solar energy facility without limitation, whether said liability is premised on contract or tort. Owner's submittal for a building permit for a solar energy system shall constitute agreement to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the City of Fayette and their officials.

  (N) Maintenance: All solar energy facilities shall be maintained in operational condition at all times, subject to reasonable maintenance and repair outages. Operational condition includes meeting all of the requirements in this section and permit conditions for a continuous 6 month period.

  1. Notice of Abandonment: The City of Fayette may issue a Notice of Abandonment to the owner of a solar energy system that is deemed not meeting the requirements or conditions associated with the solar energy system for a continuous 6 month period. The owner shall have the right to respond to the Notice within 30 days from receipt date. The Zoning Official shall withdraw the Notice and notify the owner that the Notice has been withdrawn should the owner provide satisfactory information that demonstrates the solar energy system has not been abandoned.

       ii. Removal: If the solar energy system is determined to be abandoned, the owner, at their sole expense, shall restore site to original condition and vegetation restored within 120 days. This determination shall include the requirements or conditions associated with the solar energy system not being met for a continuous 6 month period.

Thank you to everyone for your generosity and helping to make the Fayette Police Department's Toy Drive a success! A total of 248 toys were donated. The toys were donated to Helping Services for Youth and Families and to Riverview Center who will provide them to multiple families in the area who are currently going through a tough time. Members of Upper Iowa University's Peacocks for Progress also helped with the Toy Drive.

Fayette Police Chief Ben Davis was also recognized by Helping Services for his outstanding work with domestic violence victims.


Left Picture: Fayette Mayor Andrew Wenthe and Deputy Clerk Anne Sellers. Right Picture: City Administrator/Clerk Kris McGrane and Deputy Clerk Anne Sellers.

Congratulations Deputy Clerk Anne Sellers on her retirement!  Some of the city employees, council members and Mayor Wenthe gave her a few things to do during retirement: Take care of a plant, drink some coffee and a little fun money.  Thank you, Anne, for your 17 years of service!

Fayette City Hall will be changing their office hours starting Monday, August 26th, 2019, to 8AM to 12:30PM and 3PM to 4PM until further notice.  Citizens may drop off any payments in the drop-box located next to the front door of City Hall.  Fayette offers citizens the option to pay utility bills online or automatic bank withdrawals.  For more information or to register for online or automatic bank withdrawal payments, contact City Hall at 563-425-4316 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  People may also pay their parking citations online.

(From the City of Fayette's Community Announcement E-mail, 8/14/19)

FAYETTE WATER & SEWER RATES:  As I mentioned in a previous email, the majority of the council have finished taking the necessary steps to update the monthly water and sewer rates as well as adjust the water/sewer capital improvement fee.  There were no changes to Recycling, Landfill, Yard Waste and Storm Water fees. The new changes are below:


Previous Rates/Fees

New Rates/Fees


1st 150 Cubic Feet

$12 (minimum)

$15 (minimum)


All over 150 Cubic Feet

$0.046 per cubic foot

$0.055 per cubic foot



1st 150 Cubic Feet

$18.45 (minimum)

$23 (minimum)


All over 150 Cubic Feet

$0.086 per cubic foot

$0.092 per cubic foot


Capital Fee


$10 per bill

2% of total cubic feet used per month, per account, with a minimum charge of $3 and maximum charge of $100 per month

We have quite a few residents that receive a minimum utility bill.  Here are the changes you will see:

Minimum Utility Bill





150 c.f.




150 c.f.











Yard Waste




Storm Water




Capital Fee




Water Tax (approx.)








Approximate Total




These changes will be reflected on your next utility bill that you will receive the beginning of September.

Why the changes?

The council reviewed the revenue for the water and sewer accounts after switching to monthly billing and found the monthly rates were too low.  The majority of the residents were paying less for their water and sewer than when the city was billing quarterly.  The council added a $10/month fee for future water and sewer capital improvements and that is the reason why residents saw an increase in their utility bills when we switched to monthly billing.

The majority of the council decided to replace the water and sewer capital improvements fee from a flat $10 per month, per account, to charging each account a fee of 2% of the water usage.  There would be a minimum fee of $3 per month and a maximum fee of $100 per month, per account.  The majority of the council felt this may be a fairer way to charge people because it will mostly be based off of water usage.  A few examples of what this would look like is:

      • If a utility user used 150 cubic feet of water or less in 1 month, they would be charged the minimum fee of $3 for that month. 
      • If a utility user used 250 cubic feet of water in 1 month, they would be charged a 2% fee of $5 for that month. 
      • If a utility user used 500 cubic feet of water in 1 month, they would be charged a 2% fee of $10 for that month. 
      • If a utility user used 1,000 cubic feet of water in 1 month, they would be charged a 2% fee of $20 for that month.
      • If a utility user used 5,000 cubic feet of water or more in 1 month, they would be charged the maximum fee of $100 for that month.

Many cities in our area have been charging some sort of a capital infrastructure/improvement fee on their utility bills so they can pay back some sort of water or sewer debt.  The City of Fayette currently has debt for our sewer system but has never implemented a capital fee because we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pay back the debt with our current sewer rates.  The council felt it would be a great time to start charging a capital fee when we switched to monthly billing so we can start a fund for future water and sewer improvements.  The idea is to help build up a fund in hopes to avoid the city having to drastically increase rates or fees when a major water or sewer repair or improvement is needed.  We have witnessed neighboring communities have to do this and we are trying to avoid it from happening here in Fayette.  The council is looking out and preparing for the future of Fayette.  

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I’ll say it again.  It is a tough job to have to manage the city’s water and sewer, such as making sure we are bringing in enough money to be able to pay all the expenses for providing water and sewer service to our community while saving for future necessities and repairing old infrastructure.  Raising rates and fees is not easy and affects all of us.  The price of everything continues to rise, including the chemicals, the testing and all the other expenses the city must provide to be able to offer you clean water and a sanitary sewer service.  If you have any questions, please reach out to the Mayor, a council member or me.

-Kris McGrane, City Administrator/Clerk

To sign-up for the City of Fayette's Community Email, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.and ask to be added to the Community Email list.

   The Fayette City Council is hoping new construction incentives will bring new houses and businesses to Fayette.  At the July 15 council meeting, the council passed a Resolution offering some great construction incentives for new homes or new businesses.  The Council passed another Resolution clarifying some of these incentives that we will post soon.  The new construction incentives are listed below.  For more information, contact Fayette City Hall at 563-425-4316 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



  • *After Completion and Inspection of a new home or new business with an appraised value of $125,000 to $174,999* - receive $10,000.00
  • OR *After Completion and Inspection of a new home or new business with an appraised value of $175,000 or more* - receive $15,000.00
  • OR *After Completion and Inspection of a new home or new business with an appraised value of $175,000 or more constructed on land that required the demolition of a home or business of lesser value* - receive $20,000.00
  • OR *After Completion and Inspection of a new home or business with an appraised value of $124,999 or under, an annual rebate on CITY Property Taxes for three (3) years (up to $700 per year)* - receive up to $2,100.00 in tax rebates
  • **Water/Sewer Connection Fees waived per city hook-up** - receive up to $150.00  

*Note:  Only the first three qualified new homes or new businesses constructed and inspected will receive the incentives per calendar year.

**Note:  Property owners in the new Westfield Addition on Stone Man Court are required to pay a sewer connection fee of $1,000, per Chapter 100 of the City Code.

NEICAC Housing builds Lease Purchase Homes in participating communities for families with children. Each home has 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a 2 car garage and plumbing roughed in for an additional bathroom. Homes are inspected by State with Iowa Department of Public Safety or local inspectors. Applications are accepted before completion and a tenant is selected using the following criteria; Income Qualified at 60% AMI or less, Stable Income, Rental History, Credit History, Criminal Background Check, Need for the Program, Home Visit, and other factors. The selected tenant will lease the home for a period of 6-36 months during which time they are educated in financial fitness and home-buyer education. When the tenant is prepared we enter into a Lease and Purchase Agreement at which time the tenant may purchase the home. The property must maintain compliance for a specified affordability period (15 or 20 years). Homes sell to qualifying families based on their ability to pay. Lease Purchase homes are Energy Star Rated homes and are compliant to current energy codes at the time of construction. These homes include 35 exceptional features that keep utility costs low, provide for clean and healthy living, use non-toxic low VOC building materials, and conserve water and energy and are affordable for low-moderate income families. This same green design and energy star rating will be built into current and future affordable housing projects. NEICAC’s Property Manager and Housing Director area Certified Home-buyer Educators. Before the renting family can purchase the home, they will be responsible for taking classes to help them repair credit, improve financial and budgeting abilities, and learn home ownership skills. Homes are eventually sold to families earning less than 60% of their local Area Median Income.

Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation is accepting applications for tenancy in their Lease Purchase Home (Rent to Own) for the home that is currently being built on Main Street in Fayette, IA. The home is a brand new energy efficient 3 bedroom, 1 bath with attached garage. Appliances include: stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. Rent is $525/month, tenant pays all utilities. The home will sell in 1-3 years to an occupying family depending on tenant's purchase readiness.
To apply contact NEICAC Housing Program: E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit; Housing Director, Jeremy Jostand (563)-387-4959; Property Manager, Julie Buddenberg (563)-387-4917.

(Left to right) Billi Shrubb, Brandi Shrubb and Fayette Mayor Andrew Wenthe.  The Shrubb’s opened Shrubb’s Street Eatery in downtown Fayette the summer of 2018.


   About five years ago, businesses in the small-town northeast Iowa town of Fayette started closing their doors.  Most of the business owners had reached retirement age or had been in business for many years and were ready to start new chapters in their lives.  Fayette lost nearly ten downtown businesses during a short span of time, leaving empty store fronts to blemish the otherwise beautiful two and half block downtown area.

   “Many residents and other business owners in town were really getting concerned,” said Kris McGrane, the City Administrator/Clerk of Fayette.  “Nobody wants to see empty storefronts in their city.”

   The City of Fayette isn’t unlike many rural communities facing the challenge of a shrinking retail environment.  But it is taking innovative steps to buck the trend.  Fayette is already unique in that, despite its small size (population around 1400), it is home to Iowa’s only Division II University, Upper Iowa University.  With the university serving as an employment and economic engine for the region, the city is striving to grow and thrive rather than shrink and stagnate.

   Starting in 2016, Fayette has had seven new businesses open and one expand.  The new small businesses range in offerings from yoga to tattoos to gourmet flatbreads, and new opportunities have been identified to keep the momentum going.

   Fayette, in partnership with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC), was awarded a Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) from Rural Development, an agency of the USDA, that helped start a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program last year.  Two new businesses, Fayette Sweets Café and The Beauty Room, took advantage of the RLF program this year.  The RLF program is designed to provide attractive financing terms to businesses that are otherwise unable to borrow needed funds through traditional bank financing.     

   “The new business owners have been very creative and are offering unique places that are not like anything else in this area,” shared City of Fayette Mayor Andrew Wenthe.  For example, Fayette Sweets Café owner Kristy Donovan’s vision for her business was to make a visitor feel as if they’ve been whisked away to Paris when bite into her made-from-scratch chocolate croissant.  Guests may color on the white paper table cloths or relax in a cozy chair while they enjoy a variety of homemade sweets and baked goods, including scones, danishes and cinnamon rolls.  Locally roasted coffee and tea are also available.

    Other new businesses include Shrubb’s Street Eatery, known throughout the region for their gourmet flatbread entrees.  Shelby Sebring, a local esthetician and certified eyelash technician, opened up The Beauty Room which specializes in traditional and airbrush makeup, eyelash extensions and body waxing. 

   Dollar General opened a new store in downtown Fayette in the fall of 2018 giving locals a place to pick up a variety of necessities without having to travel outside of town.  The Fayette County Thrift Store and Food Shelf is almost finished with an expansion which will provide more space for their thrift store.

   Fayette is currently working on a contract to lease out a city-owned storefront on a month-to-month basis.  The idea is to give people who are thinking about opening a business a chance to try it out on a short-term basis with low costs.  A few Upper Iowa University students are already interested in leasing out the storefront for a few months this fall to sell their outdoor clothing apparel and offer guided trips around the Driftless region, which includes the city of Fayette.

   “Klock’s Island Park and Campground and Fayette’s other great businesses bring people to our town,” said McGrane.  “These new businesses will add to the appeal to help bring more people to our town.  We still have room for more new businesses and more money in our revolving loan fund to help.”

New downtown Fayette businesses since 2016: Last Stand Tattoo (opened in 2016), Full Circle Services (opened in 2016), Yoga Genesis (August 2017), Shrubb’s Street Eatery (summer of 2018), Dollar General (October 2018), Fayette Sweets Café (February 2019), The Beauty Room (April 2019) and the expansion at the Fayette County Thrift Store and Food Shelf (opening soon).

(Left to right) Fayette Mayor Andrew Wenthe and Kristy Donovan, owner of Fayette Sweets Café in downtown Fayette. 


(Left to right) Shelby Sebring, owner of The Beauty Room, and Fayette Mayor Andrew Wenthe.  The Beauty Room opened in downtown Fayette in April of 2019.


(Left to right) Terri, Kathy and Fayette Mayor Andrew Wenthe.  Dollar General opened in downtown Fayette in October of 2018.

There is no place like home. And there is no place like Fayette.

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