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). + Screening is not required (UDO Section 9.7.1.A.1, Screening Applicability).

Roof-mounted Installation Screening is not required (UDO Section 9.7.1.A.1, Screening Applicability).

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). + 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).

Roof-mounted Installation Screening is not required (UDO Section 9.7.2.B.1, Screening Standards).

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). More information about the COA process is here.

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).

 
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