Interested in Starting a Solar Farm? Here is a Link to Orion Renewable Energy Group Application for Special Land Use to Construct and Operate a Solar Farm in Escanaba Township.
SOLAR FARMS: A utility-scale commercial facility that converts sunlight into electricity, whether by photostatic, concentrating solar thermal devices or any other various experimental solar technologies for the primary purpose of wholesale or retail sales of generated electricity off -site.
Solar Farms do not include small scale solar panels or technologies installed at individual residential or commercial locations (e.g. roof or ground mounted panels) that are used exclusively for private purposes and not utilized for any commercial resale of any energy, except for the sale of surplus electrical energy back to the electrical grid.
A: INTENT AND PURPOSE: To allow and promote the use of solar energy within the township as a clean alternative energy source and to provide associated placement, land development, installation and construction regulations for solar farm facilities subject to reasonable conditions that will protect the public health, safety and welfare. These regulations establish minimum requirements for solar farms facilities, while promoting a renewable energy source in a safe, effective and efficient manner.
MINIMUM LOT SIZE: There is no minimum lot size. Each solar farm is permitted as a conditional use in all districts including industrial, which a review will consider its compatibility with the surrounding area. This is to be reviewed by the township and not allowed in R-1, R-2, R-3.
HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS: All photo voltaic panels and support structures located in a solar farm shall be restricted to a maximum height of sixteen (16) feet when oriented at a maximum vertical tilt height.
SETBACKS: All photo voltaic solar panels and support structures associated with such facilities (excluding perimeter fencing) shall be setback a minimum of twenty (20) feet from a side or rear property line and a minimum of fifty (50) feet from any road right-of-way. Setbacks at residential lots to be set at fifty (50) feet. Also have a variance for landowners who have a joining property to forgo the setbacks. All facilities shall also be setback at least to the limit of any established county drain right-of-way or easement unless special provisions are formally agreed to with the Drain commissioner so as not to impede/obstruct access along the county drain.
MAXIMUM LOT COVERAGE: Maximum lot coverage restrictions shall NOT apply to photo voltaic solar panels. Any other regulated structures on the parcel are subject to the maximum lot coverage restrictions of the underlying zoning district.
SAFETY/ACCESS: A security fence (height and material to be proposed and review/approved through the special land use permit) shall be placed around the perimeter of the solar farm and electrical equipment.
NOISE: No solar farm facilities shall exceed sixty (60) dBA as measured at the property line. This will not apply during the construction phase of the project. Inverter placement to be approved before final permit is granted.
GLARE: Solar farm facilities shall be located or placed so that concentrated solar glare shall not be directed toward or onto nearby properties or roadways at any time of the day.
LANDSCAPING: The special land use application for a solar farm shall include a proposed landscaping and screening/buffering plan prepared by a licensed landscape architect. This plan will be reviewed though the special land use approval process to assure that the proposed facility is appropriately landscaped in the relation to adjacent land use and road right-of-way. The use of evergreen plantings along property lines adjacent to residential land is required. Trees shall be a minimum of four (4) feet tall at time of planting and shall remain in good condition for the life of the solar farm. There shall be a review of the landscaping every three (3) years. If there are dead plantings they be replaced within a year. There shall not be any invasive species allowed. The Planning Commission will allow existing vegetation to be used in this landscape design.
LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL PERMITS: Solar farm facilities shall be required to obtain all necessary permits and licensing from the underlying Township, Delta County, State of Michigan and U.S. Government as applicable prior to the construction and shall maintain any necessary approvals as required by the respective jurisdictions or agencies. The Conditional Use Permit , issued by the Township Planning Commission will by contingent upon maintenance of permits by other agencies.
ELECTRICAL INTERCONNECTIONS: All electrical interconnections or distribution lines shall comply with all applicable codes and standard commercial large-scale utility requirements. Use of above ground transmission lines are prohibited within the site, with the exception of the main power lines to the substation, and to the extent feasible when crossing roads.
ADDITIONAL SPECIAL USE CRITERIA: In addition to the special land use (and site plan) requirements, the applicant shall address the following topics in the application for solar farm facilities.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RATIONALE: Identify the type, size, rated power output, performance, safety and noise characteristics of the system including the system including the transmission line/grid connection for the project. Identify the project construction time frame, project life, development phases (and potential future expansions) and likely markets for the generated energy.
ANALYSIS OF ON-SITE TRAFFIC: Estimated construction jobs and estimated permanent jobs associated with the development.
VISUAL IMPACTS: Graphically demonstrate the visual impact of the project using photos or renditions of the project with consideration given to setbacks and proposed landscaping.
ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS: Identify impact on surface water quality and any impacts to County drains and /or established natural or private drainage features in the area. Cap any unused drilled holes.
WASTE: Identify and remove any solid or hazardous waste generated by the project.
LIGHTING: Provide plans showing all lighting within the facility. All lighting must be shielded so as not to affect adjacent properties. The maximum height for light poles is eighteen (18) feet.
TRANSPORTATION PLAN: Provide a proposed access plan during construction and operational phases. Show proposed project service road ingress and egress locations onto adjacent roadways and layout of the facility service road system. Due to infrequent access following construction, it is not required to pave or curb solar panel access drives.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Identify emergency and normal shutdown procedures. Identify potential hazards to adjacent properties, public roadways and to the general public that may be created. Also this project will have an emergency plan filed with the Delta County Emergency Management coordinator.
SOUND LIMITATIONS: Identify noise levels at the property lines of the project when completed and operational.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS INTERFERENCE: Identify any electromagnetic fields and telecommunications devices that may interfere with existing systems and ensure that these do not interfere with existing systems.
LIFE OF THE PROJECT AND FINAL RECLAMATION: Describe the decommissioning and reclamation plan after the anticipated useful life or abandonment/termination of the project. This includes supplying evidence of an agreement with the underlying property owners that ensure proper removal of all equipment and restoration of the site within six(6) months of decommissioning or abandonment of the project. To ensure proper removal of the project, applicants must include a description of the financial security guaranteeing removal of the system which must be posted with the Escanaba Township Zoning Administrator within fifteen (15) days after approval or before a building or construction permit is issued for the project. The financial security shall be: 1) a cash bond; or 2) an irrevocable letter of credit or 3) a performance bond, in a form approved by Escanaba Township Board. The amount of this guarantee shall be no less than the estimated cost of removal and must include provision for inflationary cost adjustments. The estimate shall be prepared by the project engineer for the applicant and shall be subject to approval by the Escanaba Township Board. If the project owner or the underlying property owner fails to remove or repair any defective equipment, or if all or a portion of the project is terminated ,in addition to any other under this Ordinance, Escanaba Township may pursue legal action to abate the violation by seeking to remove the project and to recover any and all costs, including attorney and legal fees.
ESCANABA TOWNSHIP REVIEW: Because of the ever changing technical capabilities of photo voltaic solar panels and of new technology in general, the Escanaba Township Planning commission shall have the authority to review and consider alternatives in both dimensional and physical requirements contained in this section as part of the Solar Ordinance review process. The Planning Commission shall review the project including tree landscaping maintenance, with a 3 person subcommittee, including one Escanaba Township Board member representative and the designated Planning Commission Liaison with the project, to review this project every 3 years. Results of the committee’s findings will be reported to and reviewed by the Escanaba Township Board.