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18.50.200 Solar Energy and Solar Systems
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Purpose: this section implements PlanOlathe’s policy to encourage the use of alternative energy in new development and redevelopment, and permits solar collectors in all zoning districts, subject to performance standards that protect neighborhood character and avoid unreasonable impacts to neighboring property.

A. Applicability

This section applies to solar collectors, defined as:

Photovoltaic Cells

Extremely thin solar energy collection cells, usually made of silicon, that collect solar energy and convert it to direct current (DC) electricity.

Solar Collector

A device used to collect direct sunlight to heat or cool a structure, heat domestic hot water or swimming pools, or to generate electricity.

Solar Energy Conversion System

Equipment and wiring needed to collect, store and convert solar energy into a useable form. Active solar systems rely upon mechanical means to collect light and/or heat from the sun and convert it into usable energy. Passive systems use natural, non-mechanical techniques to obtain energy from the sun including daylighting, south-facing windows, natural shading and ventilation, and building materials that absorb heat from the sun and slowly release it.

Solar Greenhouse

A solar collector that is a structure or part of a structure using glass or similar glazing material to collect direct sunlight for space heating purposes.

B. Generally

1. All solar collectors comply with the adopted building code.

2. Applications for subdivision plat or site plan approval shall address solar energy conversion systems, and shall incorporate passive systems to the extent practical.

C. Installation on a pitched roof

1. Roof-mounted solar collectors located on front or side of pitched roofs shall not extend above the peak of the roof plane on which they are mounted. No portion of the solar collector shall extend more than 24 inches perpendicular to the point on the roof where it is mounted.

2. Roof-mounted solar collectors located on the rear side of building roofs shall not extend above the peak of the roof plane on which they are mounted. No portion of any the solar collector shall extend more than 4 feet perpendicular to the point on the roof where it is mounted.

D. Installation on a flat roof

1. Roof-mounted solar collectors may be mounted on a flat roof at an optimum angle to the sun for maximum energy production when the building parapet or roof design provides full screening of the solar panels from public streets.

2. For installation of roof-mounted solar collectors on flat-roof buildings without parapets, panels shall be placed in the most obscure location without reducing the operating efficiency of the collectors, such as the center of the roof. The panels shall be installed at the same angle or as close as possible to the pitch of the roof. Associated equipment is permitted on the roof, if it is screened from view of the public street.

3.  Solar collector panels are exempt from the rooftop screening provisions of Section 18.30.070.*

E. Installation on the side of a building

1. In any planned zoning district or in any district requiring site plan approval, the construction or installation of any solar collection system on the side of a building shall be subject to either Final Development Plan approval or Site Plan approval by the City.

2. Wall-mounted solar collector panels shall not extend more than five (5) feet to the furthest extension of the solar collection panels from the wall plane on which they are installed.

3. Wall-mounted solar collector panels shall not extend more than 25 percent into any required side setback or 50 percent into any required rear setback. No part of the system shall extend into any required front setback.

4. Wall-mounted solar collectors shall not extend above the top of the wall on which they are mounted.

F. Ground-mounted installation

1. Ground-mounted solar collectors shall not exceed eight (8) feet in total height and shall be located within the rear yard at least 12 feet inside the property line.

2. All lines serving a ground-mounted solar collector shall be located underground.

G. Parking lot light pole installation

1. Twenty (20) percent of the height of a light pole may be added above the light fixture to install a solar collector panel.

2. The overall height of the parking lot light pole and solar collector shall not exceed 40 feet. Any necessary solar collector appurtenances shall be painted to match the light pole and fixture.

H. Nonconformities

1. The Governing Body may permit the installation of solar collectors that cause an existing structure to become nonconforming, or which increase an existing nonconformity, as a special use.

2. The installation may be permitted even if it exceeds the height limit established in the zoning district, if the following conditions are met:

a. There is no feasible alternative to placing the collector(s) on the roof;

b. The collector(s) are located so as to minimize view blockage for surrounding properties and shading of property to the north, while still providing adequate solar access for the collectors;

c. The collector(s) add no more than seven (7) feet of height to the existing structure. To minimize view blockage or shadow impacts, the Governing Body may limit a nonconforming solar collector to less than seven (7) additional feet of height.

* Editor’s Note: Section 18.30.070 has been repealed by Ord. 19-64.