Council Adopts New Solar Energy Ordinance

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.

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