Common Council approves ordinance on solar arrays
ROME — After more than a year-long process and some amendments to the legislation, Rome Common Council unanimously passed Ordinance 9563 Rome Code of Ordinances Chapter 80 — Zoning Code for the construction and maintenance of solar arrays within the city during Wednesday’s Common Council meeting.
Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers, Fifth Ward Councilor Frank R. Anderson and Second Ward Councilor John B. Mortise have stressed that a zoning amendment was necessary to deal with the establishment and construction of solar energy systems within the city or the issuance of any approvals or building permits for such projects.
After reviewing the legislation the city Planning Board unanimously approved a recommendation to the Common Council regarding proposed changes to the Rome Zoning Code on the construction and establishment of solar arrays within the city on the condition some additions and modifications be made to the legislation during its monthly meeting in November.
Ordinance 9563 amending Rome Code of Ordinances Chapter 80 — Zoning Code includes standards on principal use for solar arrays, use definitions, general requirements, special use permits, maximum height, host community agreements, enforcement, etc.
“I would like to thank those who helped me along the way with this legislation,” said Councilor Rogers prior to the vote. “We received a lot of comments from a number of people. Chris Mercurio from Mohawk Valley EDGE and Matt Andrews and his (city) Department of Community & Economic Development were very helpful, along with the planning department. This has been long process for sure.”
She continued, “Initially when we did the moratorium, we said we’d settle on six months, and it turns out a little more than a year...Ultimately we ended up with really solid piece of work that protects residents from projects that may impede on their privacy or properties...while at the same time, we’re hoping to allow further solar project developments where they provide a benefit to neighbors and businesses.”
During the public hearing on the legislation that preceded the meeting, Joe Tassone Jr. of ABOVEgrid in New Jersey, said he had been working with Rome Industrial Development Corporation for the past two years and have an agreement with them to develop a solar project on commercially-zoned property in the city. He commended the city for its efforts in drafting Ordinance 9563, but asked officials to reconsider the minimum 200 feet setback requirement, at least for projects developed on non-residential and non-agricultural properties.
Rogers addressed Tassone’s comments made during the hearing by stating she feels the setback requirements had been thoroughly reviewed, and that if necessary, developers may appear before the city Zoning Board of Appeals for any needed variance requests on the setbacks.
The councilor then asked for a motion to make some minor amendments to Ordinance 9563 related to the zoning portion of the legislation. The amended ordinance was then unanimously passed.
“I would like to thank Councilor Rogers again who did a lot of homework with this, looking at what other municipalities had for their solar code, and I think we have a comprehensive zoning code right now for solar energy systems that we didn’t have before,” said Fifth Ward Councilor Frank R. Anderson. “Before it was a very broad code in an industry that’s constantly changing. With all the work Councilor Rogers did, I’m still not sure we’re at the end of the rope because the industry keeps changing, so we may have to revisit this again, but we’ve done a good thing for the City of Rome in protecting our residents as much as possible. But we have to deal with this each step of the way in terms of different projects that move forward, but this is a very comprehensive plan, and now have both residential and commercial requirements well-defined.”
With the passing of the legislation, city officials said developers may now begin the application process with the city Planning Board for any proposed projects.
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