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Tewksbury Township adopts rules on solar and wind energy systems

TEWKSBURY – The township adopted rules on solar and wind energy facilities after a public hearing on Sept. 9.

George Cassa, speaking on behalf of the township Scenic Roads Commission said the group had concerns about the impact of such facilities on scenic roads. The ordinances do not require that an application automatically go before commission.

Township Attorney Mike Selvagi said no other ordinance requires an application to go before the commission. However, the matter could be addressed by amending the scenic roads ordinance.

Mayor Shuan Van Doren suggested the commission discuss it at its meeting on Sept. 11 and come back to the Township Committee with proposed amendments.

The solar and wind ordinances were then adopted with some minor word changes and grammar corrections.

Committeeman Peter Melick was the sole “no” vote on the wind ordinance. ” I don’t think we’re serious about having wind power, ” he said, noting that the systems are not allowed in the windiest parts of town.

Van Doren said the Land Use Board raised the same issue but agreed that at least, the ordinance set guidelines to refer to if anyone seeks a variance for one in an area it is not permitted.

Under the new rules, wind systems will be permitted accessory uses in the Mining, Research Office/Mixed Use and Farmland Districts where adequate lot size standards will facilitate reduction of off-site visual and audible impact. Only one tower will be allowed on each lot and they cannot be more than 100 feet tall. It will also have to be a monopole.

The ordinance spells out where on the lot the tower may be placed and what safety features are required.

If a wind powered generator is not used for a year it will be deemed abandoned and must be taken down.

Solar will be a permitted accessory use in the Lamington District, Farmland Preservation District, Piedmont District, R-1.5 Residential District, South Oldwick Residential District, Village Residential District, Village Residential-1 District, Village Business District, Village Office District, Research Office/Mixed Use District and Mining District.

Under the new rules, systems could be mounted on the roof of a building or on the ground in some districts, and only on a roof in others. Parking lot canopies could also be used in the Research Office/Mixed Use and Mining districts.

Solar or photovoltaic energy systems will have to be installed in as inconspicuous and unobtrusive a manner as reasonably possible. A roof-mounted system may serve only the lot where it is located.

Site plan approval will be required for parking lot roof canopy-mounted systems with several requirements.

Ground-mounted systems will only be allowed as accessory to a principal permitted use and would serve only the permitted principal structure and accessory buildings located on the same lot.

Nonresidential and commercial agricultural ground-mounted systems will require site plan approval.

If a system is not used for a year, it will be deemed abandoned and would have to be removed.

The ordinance also spells out safety provisions including leaving space on the roof for firefighters to ventilate in case of a fire. An emergency response plan has to be provided, filed and maintained with the appropriate fire companies and emergency squads. Training also has to be provided by the owner of each facility on at least a bi-annual basis if requested by emergency service providers.

The fire department will have to inspect the site before a certificate of occupancy can be provided.