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The commercial solar energy systems standards apply to the following zoning districts:
CO A1 A2 A3 A4 I1 I2 HI

A. Purpose. It is the purpose of these performance standards to enable Jasper County to: regulate the permitting of commercial solar energy systems; be informed of the placement of commercial solar energy systems; preserve and protect public health and safety; allow for the orderly development of land; and protect property values in Jasper County.

B. “Commercial solar energy systems (CSES)” is defined in Chapter 20.110 JCC.

C. Permitted Districts. See the respective districts in Chapter 20.20 JCC.

D. Parcel Line Setbacks. Any CSES equipment, excluding any security fencing, poles, roads, and wires necessary to connect to facilities of the electric utility, must be set back in accordance with the accessory structure standards for each zoning district. Ground mounted solar panels/arrays shall be set back a minimum of fifty (50) feet from any adjoining property line. These setbacks shall not apply between adjoining participating parcels. Additionally, such CSES equipment must be set back a minimum of two hundred (200) feet from the foundation of a primary dwelling unit. These setbacks may be waived in writing by adjacent property owners.

E. Height Limit. The height of any CSES ground mounted solar equipment is limited to thirty-five (35) feet, as measured from the highest natural grade below each solar panel. If a substation is required to connect the project to the electrical grid, the substation’s design, including height, will be in accordance with applicable electrical codes.

F. Noise Limit. A noise study shall be performed and included in the application – noise from an operational CSES shall not exceed fifty-five (55) dBA, as measured at a dwelling unit measured on an hourly average basis (Leq) (one (1) hour). These limits may be waivable by any adjoining property owners.

G. Landscape Buffer. Any CSES shall be required to meet the landscape standards as listed in JCC 20.50.520, LA-06 – Buffer yard landscaping standards. All CSES installations shall meet the minimum requirements of:

1. Buffer yard “D” where the subject parcel abuts a residential parcel; and

2. Buffer yard “A” where the subject parcel abuts a parcel with an equal or lower intensive zoning category than the subject parcel.

H. Application Procedure. Applications for CSES permits shall be filed on forms provided by the Zoning Administrator.

I. Application and Permits. Any CSES shall be required to submit a preliminary commercial site plan to the Technical Advisory Committee for review in accordance with JCC 20.90.140. Such review shall occur within thirty (30) days of filing.

For CSES facilities requiring a special exception: Per Table 1, refer to JCC 20.90.140, Special exception. In addition to the Technical Advisory Committee submittal, the applicant shall submit the required site plan to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) to be reviewed during the special exception public hearing. Construction of the CSES shall begin within three (3) years of BZA approval.

Once a special exception has been approved, an improvement location permit shall be issued in accordance with JCC 20.90.060, Improvement location permit. The following shall also be required:

1. Solar system specifications, including typical manufacturer and model.

2. Array/module design and site plans.

3. Certification that layout, design, and installation conform to and comply with all applicable industry standards, such as the National Electrical Code (NEC) (NFPA-70), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC), the Electrical Testing Laboratory (ETL), and other similar certifying organizations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Indiana Building Code (IBC), and any other standards applicable to solar energy systems. The manufacturer specifications for the key components of the CSES shall be submitted with the application.

4. All ground mounted electrical and control equipment for CSES shall be labeled and secured to prevent unauthorized access.

5. All CSES shall be installed so as not to cause wire or wireless communication signal disturbance.

6. All CSES shall be situated to eliminate concentrated glare onto abutting structures and roadways.

7. All ground mounted electrical and control equipment for CSES shall be fenced and labeled or secured to prevent unauthorized access. The solar array and/or modules shall be designed and installed to prevent access by the public, and access to same shall be through a locked gate.

8. To the greatest practical extent, all electrical wires and utility connections for CSES shall be installed underground, except for transformers, inverters, substations, and controls. The Planning Director will take into consideration prohibitive cost and site limitations in making his or her determination.

9. Exterior lighting for CSES shall be limited to that required for safety and operational purposes.

10. All signs, other than the manufacturer’s or installer’s identification, appropriate warning signs, or owner identification on a solar panel array and/or modules, building, or other structure associated with a CSES, shall be prohibited.

11. The CSES applicant shall certify that the applicant will comply with the utility notification requirements contained in Indiana law and accompanying regulations through the Indiana Public Utility Commission, unless the applicant intends, and so states on the application, that the system will not be connected to the electricity grid.

12. A decommissioning agreement must be executed by the applicant which stipulates that decommissioning of the entire facility will begin upon the occurrence of twelve (12) consecutive months of no power generation at the facility. In order to facilitate and ensure appropriate removal of the energy generation equipment of a CSES when it reaches the end of its useful life, or if the applicant ceases operation of the facility, applicants must file a decommissioning agreement which details the means by which decommissioning will be accomplished and the timeline for completion. This agreement must include a description of implementing the decommissioning, a description of the work required, a cost estimate for decommissioning, a schedule for contributions to its decommissioning fund, and a demonstration of financial assurance. Salvage value shall be considered in determining decommissioning cost. In the event of a force majeure or other event which results in the absence of electrical generation for twelve (12) months, by the end of the twelfth month of nonoperation the applicant must demonstrate to Jasper County that the project will be substantially operational, producing electricity within twenty-four (24) months of the force majeure or other event. If such a demonstration is not made to Jasper County’s satisfaction the decommissioning must be initiated eighteen (18) months after the force majeure or other event. The County considers a force majeure to mean fire, earthquake, flood, tornado, or other acts of God and natural disasters, and war, civil strife or other similar violence. The operator of any CSES shall secure and provide a performance bond or submit an escrow deposit in an amount determined by a third party engineering firm to ensure the proper decommissioning and removal of the CSES. The applicant will have the financial assurance mechanism in place prior to the issuance of an improvement location permit and will reevaluate the decommissioning cost and financial assurance at the end of years five (5), ten (10) and fifteen (15). Every five (5) years after the start of construction, updated proof of acceptable financial assurance must be submitted to Jasper County for review. Proof of acceptable financial assurance will be required prior to the start of commercial operation.

13. The site plan should be submitted in accordance with the plan requirements of the Jasper County Storm Drainage, Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance (Rule 5), JCC 20.50.250(D)(5).

14. Drainage Board approval.

15. Applicant agrees to pay all attorney fees and costs in the enforcement of the terms of this section.

J. Public Improvements and Repairs.

1. Road Capacity. During construction, roads shall remain open at all times except for periods of time less than ten (10) minutes. Expected loss of capacity (i.e., temporary closures) greater than ten (10) minutes shall require notice to neighboring and affected property owners twenty-four (24) hours prior to the temporary closure, and either a detour to be established or personnel to redirect traffic to alternate routes during the temporary closure. Any necessary temporary closures and proposed detours shall be made known to the Highway Department at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the temporary closure or as otherwise agreed.

2. Commitment to Avoid Disruptions. In addition to a surety, the CSES operator shall sign an affidavit indicating they will strive to avoid:

a. Damage to roads;

b. Unreasonable disruption of vehicular circulation around the development site; and

c. Unreasonable disruption of power or other utility services to surrounding areas.

K. Public Notice. The CSES operator shall identify all State highways and local roads to be used in the transport of equipment and parts for construction, operation, or maintenance of the solar farm. It shall also prepare a timeline and phasing plan for construction and identify any known road closures. This information shall be released to the local newspapers as notice to persons who may be affected. This information shall also be conveyed to local law enforcement, emergency services, public school corporations, the United States Postal Service, and the regional office of the Department of Transportation.

L. As-Built Plans Requirement. Upon completion of all development, the exact measurements of the location of utilities and structures erected during the development are necessary for public record and shall therefore be recorded. The applicant, owner, or operator shall submit a copy of the final construction plans (as-built plans), as amended, to the Planning Administrator with the exact measurements thereon shown. The Planning Administrator, after being satisfied that the measurements are substantially the same as indicated on the originally approved final plans, shall approve, date and sign said construction plans for the project, which the applicant, owner, or operator shall then record.

M. Change in Ownership. It is the responsibility of the owner or operator listed in the application to inform the advisory plan staff of all changes in ownership and operation during the life of the project, including the sale or transfer of ownership or operation. [Ord. 3-4-19A § 1.]