Solar panels

Solar panels and other photovoltaic systems are allowed as an accessory use in all zoning districts. Below is a summary of location and screening requirements for solar panels accessory to residential and nonresidential development - and development within a local historic district - as established in Durham's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). ###Single and Two-Family Residential Development (not in a local historic district) **Ground-mounted Installation** + Panels for residential uses may encroach into required yards, but shall be located a minimum of six feet from property lines [(UDO Section 6.12.3.B.11, Encroachments into Required Yards)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/6.12.3B). + Screening is not required [(UDO Section 9.7.1.A.1, Screening Applicability)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/9.7.1A). **Roof-mounted Installation** Screening is not required [(UDO Section 9.7.1.A.1, Screening Applicability)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/9.7.1A). ###Multifamily and Nonresidential Development (not in a local historic district) **Ground-mounted Installation** + Panels for residential uses may encroach into required yards, but shall be located a minimum of six feet from property lines [(UDO Section 6.12.3.B.11, Encroachments into Required Yards)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/6.12.3B). + Panels shall be screened at a height that is six inches higher than the panel and associated equipment [(UDO Section 9.7.2.B.1, Screening Standards)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/9.7.2B). **Roof-mounted Installation** Screening is not required [(UDO Section 9.7.2.B.1, Screening Standards)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/9.7.2B). ###Development in a Local Historic District **Ground-mounted Installation** Ground-mounted solar panels require a Minor Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) so long as their visibility from the street is minimized—this would mean locating in a rear yard and/or out of view from the street or screened in some way. If criteria for minimizing views cannot be met, then a Major COA is required [(UDO Section 3.17, Certificate of Appropriateness)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/3.17). More information about the COA process [is here](https://durhamnc.gov/392/Certificates-of-Appropriateness). **Roof-mounted Installation** Roof-mounted solar panels require a Minor COA so long as their visibility from the street is minimized—this would mean locating on a rear roof slope or toward the rear of a side-facing roof slope. They must also not create damage to a historic roof surface, such as slate or terra cotta. If criteria for minimizing views or impact on a historic roof surface cannot be met, then a Major COA is required [(UDO Section 3.17, Certificate of Appropriateness)](https://durham.municipal.codes/UDO/3.17).  
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