Zoning Laws on Solar

From page 151




(M) and Solar Access

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  1. Purpose. In view of the existing shortage of conventional energy sources, it has been determined to be in the public interest to encourage the use of solar energy for heating and cooling of buildings and providing hot water for use in buildings or swimming pools. The use of solar collectors for this purpose requires adequate access to sunlight by each lot without obstruction by adjacent structures. It is the intent of this section to encourage the use of solar collectors by protecting access to sunlight in a manner consistent with the other purposes of this By-Law.

  2. Definitions.

    1. Solar Collector: A device, or combination of devices, structure, or part of a device or structure that transforms direct solar energy into thermal, chemical or electrical energy and that contributes significantly to a structure’s energy supply.

    2. Solar Energy: Radiant energy (direct, diffuse, and reflected) received from the sun.

c. Solar Skyspace: The space between a solar energy collector and the sun which must be free of obstructions that shade the collector to an extent which precludes its cost-effective operation.

  1. Permitted Use. The use of solar energy collectors for the purpose of providing energy for heating and/or cooling is a permitted use within all zoning districts, whether as a part of a structure or incidental to a structure or group of structures in the nearby vicinity. No guarantee is hereby given that the use of solar collectors is economically or technically feasible on all property within the Town.

  2. Protection of Solar Collectors’ Access To Light. Skyspace easements across contiguous or nearby lots, tracts, or land may be created to establish a window or exposure to the sun so as to protect an existing or intended solar collector’s exposure to the sun from obstruction by buildings or trees.

    1. Solar skyspace easements may be purchased, reserved, granted or otherwise obtained. Adverse possession cannot create such an estate.

    2. A solar skyspace easement may, at the discretion of the easement owner, be recorded and filed with the Building Commissioner.

      1. Variances. The inability of a property owner to site a structure within the confines of the prevailing lot dimensions for the purpose of obtaining unimpaired solar access may constitute a hardship under the provisions of Chapter 40A, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

        Variances may be granted by the Board of Appeals from dimensional restrictions such as height, setback, and lot density where such variances are necessary to permit unimpaired access to the sun during hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. so long as such variances do not interfere with an existing solar collector to any degree or preclude the construction of a solar collector on northerly property within the reasonable vicinity and are not otherwise injurious to adjacent property.