Solar panel regulations spelled out

by Laura Bednar

Oct. 23 zoning commission meeting

Final language regarding solar energy systems in the township was sent to Sagamore Hills trustees for approval. The regulations cover solar energy systems used to provide power to structures on properties they serve and may have a connection to an electric utility.

All electrical lines relating to the system must be underground. Solar energy systems “shall only be an accessory use in a residential and commercial zoning district.” A primary or accessory structure may have solar panels installed on the roof; no ground installations are permitted.

Panels may not hang over the edge of the roof, and in a residential district the installation must follow the existing roof pitch, not exceeding 12 inches above the surface of the pitch.

Zoning Inspector Ray Fantozzi said the fire code states solar panels must be at least three feet below the highest roof pitch to allow for ventilation during a fire.

The commission added the following to the proposed code: “All solar energy systems are subject to prior approval and ongoing inspection by the fire department to meet county and Ohio fire code requirements.”

Another regulation prevents panels from exceeding the maximum building height where it is located or 35 feet, whichever is less. In a commercial district, the installation cannot exceed 6 feet in height from the surface of the roof.

Trustees will hold a public hearing on the language before approving it.

Food trucks

The zoning commission continued to discuss food trucks. Members already had suggested that trucks be restricted to residential districts, PUDs and church properties.

“The problem is allowing commercial businesses in residential areas but not in a commercially zoned area,” said commission member Dwight Chasar, adding that he would not vote for the trucks in any form.

Commission members talked about allowing food trucks at private events, but not opening them up to the public. For instance, a food truck in a PUD would be available only to those residents. Peter Lachina, commission member, said, “The truck is looking to make a profit,” adding that it may advertise to the public anyway.

The next issue was sale of the food. Zoning Chair Dr. David Koncal said there should be no on-site sales, and the food must be prepaid. Lachina asked about events with an admission fee in which food was free once inside. An example would be a church festival. Koncal suggested the language should read that trucks are allowed in a “nonprofit” setting to cover all areas.

Snell asked if trucks would be permitted to park in a resident’s driveway for a private event. This issue was not unanimously agreed upon. The discussion was held over until next month.

Citizen comments

Acadia Drive resident Victor Magazine complained about people riding ATVs through his property, First Energy property and the township park late in the evening. On Oct. 2, Magazine said industrial fireworks were set up and left on one of the ATV trails near the power lines. The riders were cutting trees and brush to make a path in the wooded areas behind the properties, according to Magazine.

Snell said the Sagamore Hills Police are working on this issue, and Magazine said he has installed no-trespassing signs on the property.

Resident Patricia Chapek asked about activity at the former Elmcroft Assisted Living facility on W. Aurora Road. Snell said the property owners are permitted to work on the building, but there is no occupancy permit issued so no one is allowed to live there now.

Koncal reiterated that representatives from New Aurora Health, who want to build a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility on the site, have not submitted a zoning change application. Fantozzi said the representatives need a zoning change, building department approval and a fire inspection to move forward. ∞