Zoning is the way local governments control the physical development of land, buildings, and whole neighborhoods. Installers or developers will handle the process of ensuring solar projects are in alignment with local zoning law, and will secure the necessary permits, reviews and approvals as needed by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). There is significant variation among New York jurisdictional zoning codes, even between neighboring jurisdictions, throughout the state as found in this NY State Solar Survey.
Sustainable CUNY, through the NYSolar Smart Program, formed a working group consisting of stakeholder jurisdictions, PACE Law Center and NYSERDA, to undertake a comprehensive review of zoning and planning best practices and develop model zoning ordinances for New York jurisdictions who are looking to remove barriers associated with zoning. Recommendations include integrating solar and other renewable technologies when updating comprehensive plans to ease the way for future adoption of solar-friendly zoning codes while maintaining overall community zoning guidelines. Additionally, municipalities can recognize local solar resources and include policies that would help build a local solar market when updating subarea, functional or comprehensive plans. NYS Model Solar Energy Law
Steps you can take now
Municipal leaders and staff can learn about the benefits of solar through the NY-Sun PV Training Network workshops, resources and podcasts and request free Technical Assistance. Educating decision-makers on the value of solar in a community, as well as on standard solar installations, helps ease the adoption of solar friendly zoning ordinances.
New York City
Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York, worked with partners under the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to develop the Solar Planning and Zoning Implementation Guide for NYC in 2013.