Murray proposes ordinance with 4 tiers for solar projects

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 January 2023 at 9:34 am

MURRAY – The Town of Murray’s proposed solar law includes four tiers for projects which differs from most of the local towns which divvy the projects into two tiers.

Murray officials have been working on the proposed law for about a year, code enforcement officer Mylynda Kuba said during last week’s Orleans County Planning Board meeting.

Murray is proposing the following tiers:

• Tier 1 (Capacity up to 25 kW) – Permitted in all zoning districts and exempt from site plan review. They could be roof mounted or ground mounted.

• Tier 2 (Capacity up to 1 megawatt and which generate no more than 100 percent of the electricity consumed on the site over the previous 12 months) – Permitted in all zoning districts as accessory structures and subject to site plan review; view minimized from adjacent properties; requires a landscape plan.

• Tier 3 (Capacity up to 5 megawatts and up to 40 acres in size) – Issuance of special use permit and site plan review, and permitted in residential/agricultural and industrial zones; must complete a study to be submitted to local airports for encroachment issues; shall be screened from adjoining uses and any roadway.

• Tier 4 (projects not included in tiers 1, 2 or 3) – Issuance of special use permit and site plan review, and permitted in residential/agricultural and industrial zones; eligible for solar systems PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) and will require a host community agreement fee; same restrictions and requirements as a tier 3 system but with additional requirements including an agricultural impact statement to determine impact on agriculture in town and community; economic impact study to determine economic impact of project on town; and proposal for host community agreement that reflect large-scale impacts of the project.

Kuba, the town’s code officer, said no current solar projects have been submitted to the town, but she said many farmers are being approached about projects.

The town’s proposed code establishes regulations and an application process for projects of all sizes. Kuba said the rules from the town give farmers and larger land owners options to host projects with fewer regulations than going through the state process.

Murray’s law doesn’t address larger battery storage systems for solar. Kuba said town officials want more information on large battery storage projects before establishing regulations.

The town’s law also addresses solar projects that are abandoned or deemed inoperative. Those systems, regardless of size, shall be decommissioned and removed at the owner’s expense.

The County Planning Board recommending Murray approve the proposed regulations.