Groton clarifying land use definitions to support green energy

Tompkins Weekly Staff


The Town of Groton is working to bring its land use and code regulations in line with green energy guidelines.

Photo by Kristy Montana / Tompkins Weekly
Children fill the back of a horse-drawn wagon during last year’s Groton Olde Home Days festivities.

The town has proposed Local Law #4 for the Year 2017, which will make amendments to the local law passed for land use and development code in 2011. There will be a public hearing on the proposed local law at 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 9, at the Groton Town Hall, located at 101 Conger Blvd.

A summary of the law is listed on the town’s website, stating it “will provide clear definitions pertaining to green energy to address advances in green energy since the adoption of the 2011 law; support current State and local initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases; and allow residents the opportunity to produce energy from renewable resources while mitigating adverse impacts due to large scale production.” The law also will eliminate the distinction between commercial and non-commercial signs.

The proposed law has been designed to work with small and large scale energy production. A small scale system is defined as one “that has the primary function of serving the building(s) or structure(s) with which it is associated on the same lot.” Large scale is defined as a system “that has a primary function of transferring electricity to a public electric grid but may also be for onsite use.”

The purpose of the small scale green energy production portion of the law is meant to encourage people to install systems, but have minimal impact on neighboring properties. The section specifically spells out regulations for solar, biomass and wind systems.

The large scale section seeks to allow systems to generate green energy and distribute it off site, but, again, minimize the impact for residents and neighboring properties. It addresses specifics for solar and wind systems.

The land use table will be updated upon approval of the local law, providing easy reference for what systems are permitted by right and which ones would require a special permit approved by the Groton town board. Small scale energy production systems are all permitted by right, while large scale operations proposed for rural agriculture, highway commercial/industrial and industrial zoned properties would require a special permit from the town board, as well as a building permit from the codes office. Large scale green energy production would not be allowed in low and medium intensity zones.

If approved, the law would take effect as soon as it is filed with the state Secretary of State’s office.

For more information, including the full text of the proposed local law and all three parts of the SEQR, visit