Zoning or land use regulations are one of the core arenas where local governments can make a difference in solar energy growth. The inclusion of solar energy zoning best practices provides a foundation that can help facilitate the growth of solar energy, while balancing other development priorities in a community.
That’s why local action in this area is a key part of the criteria for achieving SolSmart designation. All designees must review local zoning requirements and identify restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development. To achieve Gold designation, a community must codify in its zoning ordinance that accessory use solar PV is explicitly allowed in all major zones.
SolSmart has released new Best Practice Guidance for Solar and Zoning — Accessory Use to help guide communities through this process. The guidance includes model language for communities to consider as they revise and update their own zoning documents. It highlights the key components for organized, transparent, and consistent accessory use solar energy regulations for zoning or land use codes.
Transparent zoning documents are part of making a community “open for solar business.” While more cities and counties have included solar energy zoning best practices in their zoning or land use regulations, many local approaches still inadvertently discourage solar energy. The new best practice guidance will help communities move toward SolSmart designation while making it easier for more of their residents to go solar. Get started by reading the guidance here.