§ 128-67.2 of the Town of Bethlehem, New York’s Code specifies zoning requirements for various types of solar collector units in different zoning districts within the City. For a building-mounted system, solar panels shall be set back no less than 3' from the edge of the roof to allow for fire access and ventilation. On sloped roofs, this requirement does not apply along that portion of the bottom edge located more than 3' from a side edge. Small-scale ground-mounted systems shall be permitted in a required minimum side yard or rear yard setback, provided that such system shall be set back not less than 10' from any rear or side lot line. Large-scale ground-mounted systems are subject to the minimum yard and setback requirements for the applicable zoning district. No part of a ground-mounted system shall extend into the required yards and/or setbacks due to a tracking system or short-term or seasonal adjustment in the location, position or orientation of solar PV-related equipment or parts. If system is located on a lot that adjoins a residential district, an additional setback shall be provided between the residential district and all site improvements associated with the system. The additional setbacks are intended to provide a visual buffer between the residential district and ground-mounted system. The additional setback, as well as the minimum setback area, shall be planted with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous plantings at a height so as to provide, as much as practicable, a visual screen of the ground-mounted system from residential uses. Systems shall be set back an additional 120' when located in a residential district and an additional 110' when located commercial and mixed-use districts. These additional setback dimensions shall be from the minimum yard setback along all property lines that abut a lot located in a residential district and shall also apply to the front yard setback when the lot on the opposite side of the street is located in a residential district.
Building-integrated and building-mounted solar PV systems (installed to face any rear, side and front yard area) are a permitted by-right accessory use in any zoning district. A special use permit is required for (1) ground-mounted PV systems, (2) Building-mounted and building-integrated solar PV systems that have a system capacity greater than 12kW or generate more than 110% of the kWh's of electricity consumed over the previous twelve-month period by land use(s) existing on the lot where the system is located, (3) PV systems, regardless of size, that generate and provide electricity, through a remote net-metering agreement or other arrangement, to an off-site user or users located on a lot(s) other than the lot on which the system is located, (4) PV systems, regardless of size, mounted on carports or canopy structures covering parking facilities. Solar PV systems requiring a special use permit may be classified as either an accessory use or a principal use: Principal if providing electricity to an off-site user. Accessory if generating electricity for the sole consumption of a principal use(s) or building(s) located on the same lot as the system. According to the Schedule of Uses, these principal uses are permitted by special use permit in the Rural (R), Mixed Economic Development (MED), Heavy Industrial (I), and Rural Light Industrial (RLI) zones. The accessory uses are permitted by special use permit in all zones.