Zoning Standards for Solar Energy Systems

Summary of Request

The 2040 Comprehensive Plan identified supporting residential and business solar development that maintains community character as a natural resources goal, and listed amending the City Code to include definitions, permitted uses and plans, and access to sunlight as it pertained to solar energy as a policy. The Natural Resources Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan clarifies this policy by noting that the city has prioritized tree planting which means public investment in solar energy systems will be limited; however, the city wishes to facilitate the use of solar energy by private businesses and residences.

Staff has reviewed the city’s existing solar energy provisions as well as literature and model ordinances produced by the American Planning Association, the Great Plains Institute, and other organizations, and is proposing amending the City Code to meet the policy objective stated in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The proposed amendment would allow accessory solar energy systems as a permitted accessory use in all districts, adopt relevant definitions, encourage roof-mounted systems but allow for ground-mounted systems where roof-mounted systems are impractical, ensure that solar energy systems do not create nuisance glare, and establish basic design, installation, and permitting requirements for these systems. Staff is not proposing expanding the City Code’s existing provisions that protect access to solar resources, as the existing code strikes a good balance between solar resources and other considerations. Staff is not proposing any restrictions on private individual’s ability to enter into solar easements or adopt more restrictive standards that they feel are better suited to their neighborhood.

Issue Paper

The following section of the Chanhassen City Code is subject to changes:

  • Chapter 20 - Zoning

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Date Meeting Type Action
November 19, 2019 Planning Commission Public Hearing Approved
December 9, 2019 City Council TBD