An undated photo of the Chelsea City Offices. Photo courtesy of Doug Marrin.

The Chelsea City Council adopted amendments to two existing city ordinances at its April 15, 2024 meeting. Both amendments were enacted in an effort to modernize outdated regulations.

After determining that the existing language didn’t permit the use of solar energy systems at residences or businesses in Chelsea at all, the Planning Commission and staff recommended new language to address the gap. The new solar zoning ordinance begins, “To protect public health, safety, and welfare it is in the interest of the City to regulate the siting, design, and installation of solar energy systems so that they are compatible with the subject and neighboring land uses.”

While several exceptions are listed, the ordinance states, “Building-mounted solar energy installations require a zoning compliance permit approved by the Community Development Department. Ground-mounted solar energy installations require a site plan that may be approved administratively. All solar energy systems proposed as part of a site plan must be indicated on the site plan.” The text amendment also includes standards for the various solar energy system options.

The second ordinance that received an update is related to the amount of time a zoning compliance permit remains valid. Before the change, zoning compliance permits and variances expired 180 days after the date of issue. Following the council’s approval, permits are now valid for a full year. According to City Manager Colburn’s memo to the council included in the meeting packet, the change is based on a more realistic timeline for development projects and should reduce the likelihood a permit holder will need to re-apply for a permit.

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