Solar Energy Facilities
Ordinance No. 44
A. Exempt Solar Energy. Solar Energy panels located on the premises of a farm, home, or business, and which do not primarily involve the sale of electricity off the premises shall be exempt from the requirements of subsection “B”. Such units shall be allowed as a permitted accessory use in all zoning districts, providing the electricity is primarily used on site for a farm, home, or business, and these exempt solar energy panels shall comply with all other restrictions and regulations for structures in the relevant district where they are located.
B. Solar Energy Land Use Requirements.
1. Additional Special Land Use Requirements. Solar Energy Facilities shall only be allowed as a special land use in the AR Agricultural-Residential and the I Industrial District, pursuant to special land use approvals and the following requirements:
a. Applicant Identification. Applicant name and address in full, a statement that the applicant is the owner involved or is acting on the owner’s behalf, the address of the property involved in the application (substitution may include a legal description or parcel identifications numbers, and any additional contact information. Each application for a Solar Energy Facility shall also be dated to indicate the date the application is submitted to Lynn Township.
b. Land Size. Land size requirement is 160 acres or more and the acres must be continuous for Solar Energy Land Use. Limited to 4 sections equaling 2,560 acres in total.
c. Project Description. A general description of the proposed project including a legal description of the property or properties on which the project would be located and an anticipated construction schedule.
d. Procedure. The planning commission review of a Special Land Use Permit application for a solar energy facility is a two-step process. The first step is the public hearing and decision by the Planning Commission. The second step, which may occur at a separate meeting for a solar energy system, is the site plan review process by the Planning Commission. A decision on the Special Land Use Permit application by the Planning Commission is inclusive of all proposed solar energy facilities, underground electrical lines, sub-station (s), junction boxes, laydown yard (s), concrete batch plant (s), and any other operation/maintenance building (s);
e. Insurance. Proof of the application’s public liability insurance with at least “$3,000,000.00” to cover the Solar Energy Facility, the Township, and the Landowner;
f. Certification. Certifications that applicant has complied or will comply with all applicable county, state, and federal laws, regulations, and ordinances. Copies of all such permits and approvals that have been obtained or applied for at the time of the application. Note: Land enrolled in Michigan Farmland Preservation Program through Part 361 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Act 451 as amended, more commonly known as PA 116, must receive approval from the Michigan Department of Agriculture to locate a Solar Energy Facility on the property prior to construction;
i. Manufacturers’ Material Safety Data Sheet(s). Documentation shall include the type and quantity of all materials used in the operation of all equipment including;
ii. Decommissioning. Copy of the decommissioning plans and a description of how any surety bond is applied to the decommissioning process;
iii. Complaint Resolution. Description of the complaint resolution process;
iv. Fire suppression plan. A plan describing the fire suppression process and procedures and “annual training for Fire Department personnel, including the use of any special tools that will be supplied by the Solar Energy Facility.”
g. An applicant shall remit an application fee, and escrow deposit, in the amount specified by the Planning Commission. This schedule shall be based on the cost of the application review and may be adjusted from time to time. If professional review of plans is required those costs shall be borne by the applicant with his consent.
h. A $100,000 dollar fee for license process is required and is to be made out to the Lynn Township by the applicant.
2. Additional Site Plan Requirements. The applicant shall submit a site plan for this Ordinance for each Solar Energy Facility and other solar energy appurtenances. Additional requirements for a Solar Energy Facility site plans are as follows:
a. The project area boundaries,
b. The location, height, and dimensions of all existing and proposed structures and fencing.
c. The location, grades, and dimensions for all temporary and permanent on-site and access roads from the nearest county or states-maintained road,
d. Existing topography,
e. Water bodies, waterways, wetlands, drainage channels, and drain easements, and
f. All new infrastructure, both above and below ground, related to the project.
3. Standards and Requirements. Solar Energy Facilities shall meet the following standards and requirements:
a. Location of Solar Energy Facilities.
i. All solar energy facilities must comply with the requirements established by the Lynn Township Zoning Ordinance “which will include the requirement of non-reflective panels”
ii. All fences and improved areas located on the site shall “be at least 60 feet from a public road and 30 feet from all property lines” Furthermore, any structures or other improved areas located within the fence shall be located least 30 feet from fence line.
iii. Improved areas shall be located at least 500 feet from any existing single-family dwelling, two family dwellings, churches, schools, family or group child day-care homes, bed and breakfast establishment, residential facilities, and any other residences. The owner of a leased parcel may waive this requirement, in which case, written proof of this waiver must be provided to the Lynn Township Planning Commission prior to site plan approval.
iv. All access roads and storage areas shall be established on a 30′ minimum easement to a public right of way, which shall be surfaced with a pavement having an asphalt or concrete binder or with compact limestone.
v. All solar energy facilities shall have a minimum landscape buffer of 20 feet. The buffer shall contain evergreen trees or bushes planted no more than 8 feet apart and at least 4′ tall at time of planting. The buffer shall obtain a height of 10 feet within 3 growing seasons. The trees or bushes may be trimmed but no lower of the height of 10 feet.
vi. Each owner, operator, or maintainer of a solar energy facility to which this Ordinance applies and uses vegetation as defined above with a chain link fence shall utilize good husbandry techniques with respect to said vegetation, including but not limited to, proper pruning, proper fertilizer, and proper mulching, so that the vegetation will reach maturity as soon as practical and will have maximum density in foliage. Dead or diseased vegetation shall be removed and must be replanted at the next appropriate planting time. Plants or grasses not part of landscaping shall be maintained by the facility operator.
vii. At the time of application, applicant must include a vegetation site plan to be approved by the Planning Commission. The applicant must include an annual plan that details the maintenance and reseeding operations.
viii. The sound pressure level generated by solar panels shall not exceed 45 db(A) equivalent sound level (Leq) or the ambient Leq sound pressure level plus 5 db(A) for more than 15 minutes in any hour at any inhabited structure existing on the date of approval. The Leq is determined according to the Acoustical Society of America, American National Standard ANSI S12.13-1994.
b. Site Security. Solar energy facilities shall be surrounded by an eight (8) foot tall chain link fence. The fence shall securely enclose the whole improved area and be designed to restrict unauthorized access.
c. The manufacturer’s or installer’s identification and appropriate warning sign shall be posted on or near the panels in a clearly visible manner; furthermore, an information sign shall be posted and maintained at the entrance(s), which shall list the name and phone number of the operator.
d. All electrical connection systems and lines from the Solar Energy Facility to the electrical grid connection shall be located and maintained at a minimum of seventy-two (72) inches underground (both on the property where the Solar Energy Facility will be located and off-site). The Planning Commission may waive the requirements that distribution lines for the Solar Energy Facility which are located off-site (i.e., are not located on or above the property where the Solar Energy Facility will be located) be located and maintained underground if the Planning Commission determines that to install, place, or maintain such distribution lines underground would be impractical.
e. The design of solar energy facilities buffers shall use materials, color, textures, screening, and landscaping, that will blend the facility into the natural setting and existing environment.
f. If the solar energy facility consists of batteries or storage of batteries, adequate design must be provided to ensure all local, state, and federal requirements regulating outdoor battery storage have been met.
g. The applicant must obtain a driveway permit from the St Clair Road Commission or MDOT, as applicable.
h. The design and construction of solar energy facilities shall not produce light emissions, whether direct or indirect (reflective), that would interfere with pilot vision and /or traffic control operations.
i. The design and construction of solar energy facilities shall not produce electrical emissions that would interfere with aircraft communications equipment, systems or navigation.
j. A copy of the application to the utility company that will be purchasing electricity from the proposed site shall be provided to the Township Planning Commission.
k. An affidavit or evidence of an agreement between the lot owner and the facility’s owner or operator confirming the owner or operator has permission of the property owner to apply for the necessary permits for construction and operation of the solar energy facility. All conditions must be held up and maintained by landowners and operators.
l. Any other relevant studies, reports, certifications, and approval may be reasonably required by the Planning Commission.
m. A description of the proposed technology to include type of solar panel and system, fixed mounted versus solar tracking, number of panels, and angles of orientation.
4. Aviation Notification
a. For consideration of potential impacts to civilian flight paths for airport operations located within five (5) nautical miles from an airport listed in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, notification of intent to construct a Solar Energy Facility shall be sent to the airport manager or designated official and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) office with oversight of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). Notification shall include location of Solar Energy Facility (i.e., map, coordinates, address, or parcel ID), technology (i.e., roof-mounted PV, ground-mounted fixed PV, tracked PV, solar thermal, etc.), and the area of system (e.g. 5 acres). Proof of delivery of notification and date of delivery shall be submitted with permit application. The airport must be given 30 days for review.
b. For consideration of potential impacts to civilian flight paths for airport operations located within five (5) nautical miles from an airport not listed in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, except military airports, notification of intent to construct a Solar Energy Facility shall be sent to the airport manager or designated official. Notification shall include location of Solar Energy Facility (i.e. map, coordinates, address, or parcel ID), technology (i.e. roof-mounted PV, ground-mounted fixed PV, tracked PV, solar thermal, etc.), and the area of system (e.g. 5 acres). Proof of delivery of notification and date of delivery shall be submitted with permit application. The airport must be given 30 days for review.
c. After receiving notification of intent to construct a Solar Energy Facility as described above; if requested, the proponent of the Solar Energy Facility shall use the latest version of the Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT), per its user’s manual to evaluate the solar glare aviation hazards, as indicated. The full report of each flight path and observation point, as well as the contact information for the zoning administrator, shall be sent to the authority indicated below at least 30 days prior to site plan approval. Proof of delivery of notification and date of delivery shall be submitted with permit application.
i. Airport operations at an airport in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) within 5 nautical miles of the center of a proposed Solar Energy Facility: provided required SGHAT analysis information to the airport manager or designated official and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA).
ii. Airport operations at airport not in the NPIAS within 5 nautical miles of the center of proposed Solar Energy Facility: provide required SGHAT analysis information to the management of the airport for non-military airports.
d. Any applicable Solar Energy Facility design changes (e.g. Module reflective, etc.) after initial submittal shall be rerun in the SGHAT tool and the new full report shall be sent without undue delay to the contact specified above for accurate records of the as-built system.
5. Decommissioning and Abandonment.
a. Decommissioning: A decommissioning plan to sign by the party responsible for decommissioning and the landowner addressing the following shall be submitted prior the issuance for the Special Land Use Permit, which shall include:
i. The anticipated life of the project;
ii. The estimated decommissioning cost.
iii. The method of ensuring that funds will be available for decommissioning and restoration, to include but not limited to:
-Complete removal of all non-utility owned equipment, conduit, structures, fencing, roads, solar panels, and foundations, and
-Complete restoration of property to condition prior to development of the Solar Energy Facility;
iv. The anticipated manner in which the project will be decommissioned and the site restored;
v. A provision to give notice to the Township one year in advance of decommissioning. A surety bond to assure payment of the cost of decommissioning shall be required. To ensure proper removal of the structure when it ceases to be used for a period of one (1) year or more, any application for a new solar panel shall include a description of the financial security guaranteeing removal of the solar panel shall include a description of this removal. It shall include which will be posted at the time of receiving a building permit for the facility. The security shall be a: 1) cash bond; 2) irrevocable bank letter of credit; or 3) performance bond in a form approved by the Township. The amount of such a guarantee shall be equal to one and a quarter to one and a half times the Net Decommissioning Costs, as determined by the certified professional engineer. The estimate shall be prepared by an independent and certified professional engineer retained by the township and paid by the owner(s) to estimate the total cost of decommissioning. These estimates shall be submitted to the Township Zoning Administrator prior to the start of construction and every fifth year thereafter and the surety bond amount shall be adjusted accordingly. The applicant shall be responsible for the payment of any cost or attorney fees incurred by the Township in securing removal; and
vi. The timeframe for completion of decommissioning activities.
b. Abandonment. A Solar Energy Facility that ceases to produce energy on a continuous basis for 12 months will be considered abandonment unless the current responsible party (or parties) with ownership interest in the Solar Energy Facility provides substantial evidence (updated every 6 months after 12 months of no energy production) to the Planning Commission or its designee of the intent to maintain and reinstate the operation of that facility. It is the responsibility of the responsible party (or parties) to remove all equipment and facilities and completely restore the Parcel to its condition prior to development of the Solar Energy Facility.
i. Upon determination of abandonment, the Zoning Administrator shall notify the party (or parties) responsible that they must remove the Solar Energy Facility and restore the site to its condition prior to development of the Solar Energy Facility within six (6) months of notice by the Planning Commission or its designee.
ii. If the responsible party or (or parties) fails to comply, the Planning Commission or its designee may remove the Solar Energy Facility, sell any removed materials, and initiate judicial proceedings or take any other steps to legally authorize against the responsible parties to recover the costs required to remove the Solar Energy Facility and restore the site to a non hazardous pre-developed condition.
iii. The timeframe for completion of decommissioning activities.
6. Complaint Resolution
a. The Solar Energy Facility Applicant shall submit a detailed, written complaint resolution process developed by the Solar Energy Facility Applicant to resolve complaints from the Township Board or the Property owners or residents concerning the construction or operation of the Solar Energy Facility.
b. The Township Board shall appoint a three-member Complaint Resolution Committee to oversee and participate in all complaint resolution discussion or meeting between the Township property owner or resident and the Solar Energy Facility Applicant.
c. The Complaint Resolution Committee shall consist of one (1) member of the Township Board, one (1) member of the Township Planning Commission, and one (1) qualified elector chosen from the community.
d. The Solar Energy Facility Applicant shall provide not less than forty-eight (48) hours’ notice to the complaint Resolution Committee, and all provide the opportunity for the Committee to attend any and all complaint resolution discussion and meeting. The Solar Energy Facility Applicant or Operator shall also provide the Complaint Resolution Committee with a monthly report outlining the issues, the progress, and the resolution of each such complaint.
e. The Township Board shall be kept appraised of all complaints and shall receive a report outlining the issues, the progress, and the resolution of each such complaint. Such report shall be presented monthly by the Complaint Committee.
7. Conflicting Provisions in the event of a conflict between any provision in this section and any other section of this Zoning Ordinance with regard to Solar Energy Facilities, the provisions of this section shall control.
This ordinance shall take effect: April 21, 2023.
Made and passed by the Township Board of Trustees of the Township of Lynn, St. Clair County, Michigan, on March 8, 2023.
1. Date of Public Hearing: February 15, 2023
2. Date of Adoption: March 8, 2023
3. Date of Publication: March 22, 2023
4. Date and Time Ordinance Shall Take Effect: April 21, 2023, 12:00 a.m.
Annette Ferrett, Clerk