Chapter 21 Solar Energy Facility Regulations Approved

Solar Panels. Photo courtesy of Weldgov.com

Finalizing a more than six-month process to shed light on solar designations in unincorporated Weld County, the Board of Commissioners approved Chapter 21 (Areas and Activities of State Interest) code changes Monday after a three-reading process. 

“These code changes conclude more than six months of work between the county and various energy and agricultural industry stakeholders,” said Weld County Commissioner Chair Steve Moreno. “Both the Chapter 21 and 23 solar energy designations will help drive economic development in our county.” 

Changes to the code modify the definition of a solar energy facility to include a commercial facility’s primary purpose: to supply electricity and consist of one or more solar displays as well as additional attached structures and equipment. These attachments can include substations, switchyards, battery storage, electrical infrastructure,  generators, transmission lines, communications infrastructure, and other relevant structures and/or facilities. 

Specific changes regarding solar in Chapter 21 include: 

  • Solar energy facilities more than 160 acres in proximity to an urban area or more than 320 acres in the ag/rural area require a 1041 permit.  

1041 permits require review and approval by both the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners. 

Changes outlined in Chapter 21 also help further the goals of the county’s comprehensive plan in that facilities must be compatible with future development and developers need to explain how prime agricultural land, neighbors, and the county as a whole will be protected if a facility is located in the agricultural zone. All solar facilities must adhere to a  setback requirement of 500 feet from an existing residential building and planned development areas. The overall definition of a solar energy facility does not include roof and/or ground-mounted solar systems located on homes or other structures. 

Chapter 23 zoning changes for other Solar Energy Facilities on a smaller scale were previously approved by the board on May 24. 

View the approved code changes by going to https://cmtcm.co.weld.co.us/weldcm/web/, acknowledging the disclaimer, then typing 20211876 in the Doc# field for Chapter 21 amendments. 

To learn more about the Department of Planning Services, visit https://www.weldgov.com/Government/Departments/Planning-and-Zoning

 

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