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Tinton Falls revisits solar, wind energy rules  

Credit:  BY KENNY WALTER Staff Writer, The Hub, hub.gmnews.com ~~

For the second time in 2011, the Tinton Falls Borough Council will consider revisions to the standards for wind and solar energy systems.

Borough Planner Paul Gleitz brought the topic up at theApril 5 workshop meeting after speaking with members of the Planning Board about concerns with the borough’s ordinance.

Gleitz explained some of the concerns raised and some of the recommended changes to the ordinance.

“Based on the discussions of the Planning Board and the discussions with the council, wemade small [wind] energy systems conditional uses,” he said. “From a planning standpoint, these are only permitted if they meet the standards in the ordinance.

“If you do not meet the conditions spelled out in the ordinance, then you go to the zoning board for a use variance,” he added.

He said the ground solar energy systems should become accessory uses and would need Zoning Board approval, much like a pool or a deck.

He also said rooftop solar energy systems would not need board approval if they meet the approved standards.

“My experience is that if someone wants to put a rooftop solar system on one of their buildings and it meets all the requirements, there really isn’t the need for the extra expense, the extra time needed for an approval,” Gleitz said.

He said that there are some standards on rooftop solar energy installations, including panel size.

“We want to encourage rooftop systems,” he said. “For a peak roof, we want to keep them on 12 inches. For a flat roof, I think we need to go up to 4 feet because they have a tilt on those.”

Under the proposed ordinance changes, wind turbine systems would be permitted on lots of at least 3 acres in a recreational zone and 5 acres in a commercial zone.

The turbines are also capped at a height at 125 feet, and the structures require minimum setbacks equal to the height of the structure from all property lines.

Borough Attorney Brian Nelson said that there are very few properties in the borough that would qualify under these standards.

“If you broke down every lot that fit these standards, I think there are very few,” he said. “I think you can [count] them on both hands.”

According to Nelson, many of the borough’s residential lots are shaped in a way that the turbines would not meet the set standards.

“Alot of the larger-size residential lots are deep, narrow lots,” he said. “A lot like that, you couldn’t even put this there, because it is too narrow.

“There are very few perfectly square 3- acre lots,” he added.

Gleitz said that not only are there few lots that would meet the standards, but there are only a few zones that would have properties that would meet the standards.

“I think the only zones that would have parcels that would meet the requirements would be the R-Azone or the R-1,” he said .

He also explained why there is a 125-foot cap on the height of the turbines.

“These systems rely on clean air flow, and anything below 80 or 90 feet gets caught up in the trees,” he said. “That is why it has to be 3 or 5 acres andwhywe have 125-foot setback requirements.

“The 3 acres is probably the smallest lot you can come up with and have 100 feet to all the property lines,” he added.

Gleitz said an example of a property that might notmeet the lot requirements but might be able to obtain a use variance is a property that is on the parkway and surrounded by open space.

He also said that under the Municipal Land Use Law, the borough is constrained as to what standards can be required for wind and solar energy applications.

“The Legislature has spoken for us,” Gleitz said. “They’ve made it clear that you can only limit setbacks, only limit size, you can only limit height.”

Gleitz said the solar and wind ordinance would address only the small energy systems for individual use and not revenue-generating systems.

In June, the council passed an ordinance setting the standards for wind turbines and solar panels based on an ordinance from Galloway Township.

Owners of properties of 1 to 3 acres would be permitted to install wind turbines up to 6 feet tall, and properties over 3 acres would qualify to install turbines up to 12 feet tall. No more than one wind turbine would be permitted per residential property.

The ordinance also addresses solar-energy systems, specifying that the solar panels cannot exceed a height of 12 inches from the rooftop, and ground arrays cannot exceed a height of 12 feet.

The ordinance also states that ground systems must not create a glare for adjoining properties and will not be permitted in a front yard or within 20 feet of a property line.

In February the Borough Council discussed an ordinance that would set the standards on wind and solar systems based on the specific zones.

It was suggested by Nelson at that time that the borough should consult with Gleitz.

Source:  BY KENNY WALTER Staff Writer, The Hub, hub.gmnews.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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