The Lower Nazareth Township Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an amended solar ordinance at a meeting Wednesday night.
The ordinance regulates the installation and removal of solar energy systems, and applies to any zoning district, which was not the case in the past, according to Timm Tenges, the township's manager.
The zoning office and the Zoning Hearing Board will now enforce solar energy systems, added Tenges.
The ordinance has been a work in progress, according to Gary Asteak, solicitor for the township.
“This ordinance has been in the works for at least two years, representing the collective judgment of the planning staff, planning commission and solicited comments from the public," he said. "The ordinance allows for reasonable solar energy systems in an orderly and unobtrusive manner.”
Tenges echoed Asteak.
“We looked at other ordinances, and combined [them] with some of our existing solar ordinance to get an outcome that would be beneficial,” Tenges said. “And we looked at the things that were bothersome to some people.”
There are 23 regulations listed in the ordinance, and, according to the ordinance document, solar energy systems are to “be used solely for the purpose of providing electric to the property” where it is located. The township does not want solar energy systems installed for the purpose of generating electricity for electric utility companies.
Additional prohibited content includes:
- The system cannot cast a glare onto neighboring properties.
- It cannot create any additional heat load on the neighbors.
- It cannot be categorized as an accessory building.
- For roof-mounted systems, the top of the system cannot be more than one foot above the roof on a sloped roof. For flat roofs, it cannot be more than six feet above the roof.
There are also several regulations related to ground-mounted systems, including:
- The system cannot be less than 10 feet from any side or rear of a residential property line. For commercial use, the system has to be 75 feet away from any residential property.
- It is not allowed to be more than 12 feet in height.
- Cannot be located on properties of less than an acre.
- The system cannot occupy more than 5 percent of a lot.
- The system cannot be located in the front yard. It must be located in rear or side yards only.
“Some folks will like it and some folks won’t,” Tenges said. “We tried to look at the overall community and what type of a community we will have with solar energy systems. We want to maintain a certain character in the neighborhoods.”
For interested residents, according to Albert Kortze, the engineer for the township, the most cost effective way to pursue a solar energy system is to make an appointment with Lori Seese, the zoning administrator. A one-on-one meeting would help an individual understand the ordinance and the process in pursuing a solar project, he said.
“It can get to be expensive, whether you’re putting up a solar system or a swimming pool,” Kortze said.
Any residents or business owners interested in more information about solar energy systems in the township should contact the office at (610) 759-7434.