Mountain West Region County-level Agrisolar Policy

Boulder County Land Use Code, Colorado, solar updates only Weld County Land Use Code, Colorado (small and large)
Year Established 2018 2021
Size: Small 0-2.5 acres <5 acres
Only one solar facility can be located on a 35-acre parcel and cannot be adjacent to another
Size: Medium 2.5-10 acres 5-160 acres near an urban area
5-320 acres in an ag/rural area
Size: Large >10 acres >160 acres near an near urban area
>320 acres in the ag/rural area
Solar Allowed on Which Zoning Designations Small solar energy facilities allowed on all zoning with by site plan review or special review.

Medium solar energy facilities allowed on forestry, agricultural, rural residential, and estate residential with limited impact special review or special review. Medium solar energy facilities allowed on transitional, business, commercial, light industrial, and general industrial through site plan review.

Large solar energy facilities allowed on forestry, agricultural, rural residential, and estate residential with special review. Large solar energy facilities allowed on transitional, business, commercial, light industrial, and general industrial through limited impact special review.
Medium and Large SES are NOT allowed on suburban residential, multifamily, manufactured homes zoning, or mountain institutional.

Allowed in ag-rural and near-urban planning areas. Size of SEF depends on which area. SEF allowed on I-1 zoned parcels through administrative process. SEF not allowed on residential except for private use on-site. For medium or large SEF: A statement which explains that if the USE is proposed to be located in the A (Agricultural) Zone District, the applicant has demonstrated a diligent effort has been made to conserve prime agricultural land in the locational decision for the proposed USE.
Solar on Agricultural Lands >0.5 acre on significant agricultural lands requires Solar Energy System Development Report. Total disturbed areas associated with the ground-mounted system cannot exceed 7 acres on parcels smaller than 70 acres in size, or 14 acres on parcels larger than 70 acres in size. No system greater than 30 MW in Agricultural zone.
Permitting Small solar energy facilities require Uses Permitted by site plan review or special review.

Medium solar energy facilities require Uses Permitted by limited impact special review, special review or, site plan review.

Large solar energy facilities require Uses Permitted by special review or limited impact special review.

All permits require a Land Use Review Pre-Application Conference with a Planner to discuss the proposal.
Medium and Large facilities require a public hearing in front of the Board of County Commissioners –
Applicants will have an opportunity to make a presentation to the Board.

Small solar energy facilities require a zoning permit, which is processed administratively.

Medium and Large facilities require Use by Special Review (USR) or 1041 permits, respectively. These permits require Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioner review and approval.

Solar Energy Facility Application Requirements Submittal Requirements:
i) Vicinity map
ii) Site plan
iii) Sketch plan map
iv) Preliminary map plan
v) Final plat map
vi) Exemption map
vii) Eevelopment report
viii) Engineering report
ix) Required title information
x) Solar Energy System Development Report (required for an application for a ground-mounted solar energy system with disturbed area greater than 0.5 acre on lands designated as Significant Agricultural Lands)
a) An installation plan and a site plan showing the proposed disturbed area
b) Proposal to minimize soil disturbance and compaction through best management practices
c) A management plan which includes best practices for maintaining or improving the existing soil quality
and agricultural integrity of the land
d) Abandoned systems must be removed from the property in compliance with any deconstruction regulation in place at that time.
Other Management plans include:
i) Baseline soil test
ii) Soil and vegetation management plan
iii) Description of how the location and configuration of the solar installation on the property will facilitate and permit agricultural uses either co-located with the solar energy system or on other areas of the property including but not limited to crops, grazing, and pollinator habitat
iv) Weed control plan
v) Reclamation plan describing revegetation for the area of disturbance
Permit Application Requirements:
i) Surface drainage analysis
ii) Dust and weed mitigation plan
iii) Floodplain mapping
iv) Decommissioning / reclamation plan
v) Statement of transportation construction impacts
vi) Statement of development standards

Comment From Weld County Officials:
While the code doesn’t specify for the medium-scale activities the same parameters as the small-scale activities, the Weld County Planning Commission has the ability to require medium-scale projects to follow the same, more rigorous, or less rigorous requirements for dust, setbacks, environmental conditions, etc.
The Weld County official said the regulations were made at the higher (potentially more political) levels without land-use planner advice aside from the head of the department.

Height Restrictions Ground-mounted systems shall not exceed 15 feet in height, except to accommodate site specific needs and as approved through review.

Systems exceeding 15 feet in height require an increased setback of 75 feet from all property lines, unless it is demonstrated that a lesser setback or topographical or vegetative screening adequately mitigates visual impacts.

In no case shall a system exceed 25 feet in height.

Ground-mounted solar collectors shall not exceed 25 feet, measured from the highest grade below each solar panel to the highest extent of the solar panel rotation.
Setback Requirements 110 feet from center line of roads

100 feet from property lines

Small Solar System – shall conform to the setback requirements of the underlying zone.

Additionally, the improved area must be at least five 500 feet from existing residential buildings and residential lots of a platted subdivision or planned unit development. The residential setback requirement may be reduced if appropriate screening through landscape or an opaque fence is installed, or upon submittal to Weld County of a waiver or informed consent signed by the residence owner agreeing to the lesser setback. If landscaping or opaque fencing is substituted for setback, a landscaping plan or fencing plan shall first be submitted to and approved by the Department of Planning Services.

Noise Restrictions N/A N/A
Dust Restrictions N/A Small Solar System – operators shall continuously employ the practices for control of fugitive dust detailed in their dust mitigation plan submitted
Glare Restrictions N/A Small Solar System – shall be designed, located, or placed so that concentrated solar glare from its solar collectors will not be directed toward or onto nearby properties or roadways at any time of the day
Vegetation Management Erosion control and revegetation plan. Location of existing and proposed landscaping including a revegetation plan. The site plan shall illustrate the type, height, and/or caliper of the trunk of proposed plantings. All plantings will be specified by type and
The Dust Mitigation Plan shall be provided at the time of 5 ACRE SEF application submittal, which includes a description of those methods by which dust emanating from the proposed 5 ACRE SEF and the weeds growing upon the Impacted Area will be mitigated
Fencing N/A Small Solar System – shall be enclosed with a security fence as approved pursuant to a fencing plan submitted to the Department of Planning Services
Screening / Vegetative Barrier Only if the array exceeds the 15-foot height requirement Only required if the array will be less than the required setback from residential buildings
Decommissioning / Reclamation Plan At decommissioning:
– All disturbed will be reclaimed and revegetated to the satisfaction of the County, in consultation with the landowner
– Revegetation and reclamation will include, but is not limited to, the use of native plant species when appropriate, integrated management of weed control and prevention, and full establishment of appropriate vegetation for a minimum of three consecutive growing seasons
– No species on List A, B, or C in the County’s Noxious Weed Management Plan may be used to meet revegetation requirements
At decommissioning:
Reclamation cost estimates, which shall be updated every 5 years from the establishment and submittal of the Security, shall include all costs associated with the dismantlement, recycling, and safe disposal of facility components and site reclamation activities, including the following elements:
a) All labor, equipment, transportation, and disposal costs associated with the removal of all facility components from the facility site
b) All costs associated with full reclamation of the facility site, including removal of non-native soils, fences, and constructed access roads
c) All costs associated with reclamation of any primary agricultural soils at the facility site to ensure each area of direct impact shall be materially similar to the condition it was before construction
d) All decommissioning/reclamation activity management, site supervision, site safety costs
e) Any other costs, including administrative costs, associated with the decommissioning and reclamation of the facility site
f) The estimated date of submission of the Security to Weld County
Decommissioning / Reclamation Bond N/A Prior to construction:
An irrevocable standby letter of credit, bond, or alternate form of Security in an amount sufficient to fund the estimated decommissioning/ reclamation costs required by this Code.