PAXTON — A proposed ordinance that would regulate the installation of solar-energy systems on rooftops and in yards in Paxton will be considered by the city’s planning commission prior to the city council taking a vote on the proposal as early as September.
The council reviewed a draft of the 13-page ordinance last week, before Alderman Susan Satterlee asked Mayor Bill Ingold to schedule a meeting of the planning commission for it to conduct its own review.
After the commission holds a public hearing on the ordinance and makes a recommendation on how the council should proceed, the council’s license/permit/zoning/insurance committee will meet to make its own recommendation. The council will then hold another public hearing before taking a vote on whether to approve the ordinance.
The proposal would amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow solar-energy systems within any zoning district in city limits, including residential, through the issuance of a building permit. A special-use permit or zoning variance would not typically be required, meaning no public hearing would be either.
The building permit fees would range from $150 for a solar-energy system of 0-10 kilowatts to as much as $6,000 for a 2,000-kilowatt system. In addition to paying a fee, building permit applicants would need to submit a drawing showing the location of the system on their building or property.
Setback requirements would need to meet the existing setbacks for structures, and no ground-mounted solar-energy system would be able to be built in a front yard of a residential property — but, rather, only in side yards and back yards. A roof-mounted solar-energy system would not be able to extend beyond the perimeter of the home on which the system is mounted, and it would also be limited to a height of 4 feet above a flat roof or 2 feet above a sloped roof.
Other requirements are outlined for solar-energy systems put in commercial, agricultural or manufacturing districts.
Miller told aldermen that the proposed ordinance can always be tweaked by either the planning commission or the council before it is approved. Miller also noted that the ordinance, once approved, can always be amended to reflect changes in the “ever-changing technology” of green energy.