Planning, Zoning and Development

planning, zoning, and developmentPlanning, Zoning and Development is one of the foundational categories for the SolSmart designation program. To achieve a Bronze designation, a city must complete PZD-1 and earn at least 20 points in this category. To achieve a Silver or Gold designation, a city must also complete PZD-2. Below is a list of regional guidance and best practice documents. When regional examples are not available, national examples are available through SolSmart resources.






Review zoning requirements and identify restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development. Compile findings in a memo (required for Bronze).

**Earn an additional 5 points (PZD-1b): Formally present memo findings to planning commission or relevant zoning body.

**Earn an additional 5 points (PZD1-c): Draft proposed language for changes to zoning code based on memo.  Involve planners and/or local zoning experts in the creation of draft language.


Allow accessory use solar PV by right in all major zones (20 points, required for Silver and Gold).

Resources & Best Practices

Model Ordinance Guide for Municipalities



Review existing planning documents and identify new opportunities (not already included) to integrate solar PV into planning goals (5 points).

**Earn an additional 5 points (PZD-3b): In consultation with planners and other staff, provide draft language on solar PV which will be proposed for inclusion in existing or future plans. Provide a timeline for when the language will be considered for incorporation into plan.



Provide clear guidance for solar PV in historic and special-use districts (10 points).


City of Plano Downtown Heritage Resource District Design Standards



Integrate solar PV and/or shared solar into relevant local plans (e.g. energy plan, climate plan, comprehensive plan), including quantifiable metrics or specific actions (10 points).




Include considerations for active and passive solar in development regulations (e.g. providing guidance for orientation of structures in subdivision regulations) (10 points).



Provide development incentives for solar PV within the subdivision or zoning process, or as part of other development incentives (e.g. density or height bonuses for buildings that plan to install solar or tax-increment financing) (20 points).



Encourage or incentivize solar PV development on parking lots, vacant lots, landfills, buffer lands around uses with nuisances (e.g. refineries, wastewater plants), brownfields or formerly contaminated lands, airport safety zones (with FAA approval), and non-building structures (20 points).

Resources & Best Practices

Putting Underutilized Land to Work for Solar Webinar

Cost-Benefit Analysis Report

Solar on Landfills Fact Sheet



Train planning staff on best practices in planning and zoning for solar PV. Training must have occurred within the past five years (10 points).



Ensure that the zoning ordinance:

**PZD10-a: Clarifies regulations for small ground-mounted solar PV (5 points).

**PZD10-b: Establishes a clear regulatory pathway for primary use solar PV (for example, through a special use permit or through inclusion among allowed conditional uses) (5 points).

**PZD10-c: Exempts rooftop solar PV from certain restrictions on accessory use (e.g. height limits, rooftop equipment screening requirements, or other restrictions) (5 points).

**PZD10-d: Exempts small ground-mounted solar PV from certain restrictions on accessory uses (e.g. setbacks, coverage or impervious surface calculations, or other restrictions) (5 points).



Create and provide a handout online for developers that provides an overview of what development regulations allow under which conditions (e.g. types and sizes of solar PV arrays permitted, the processes required, and other relevant information, such as design standards and policy outside of the zoning language) (5 points).



Local Innovation: Please describe your local innovation regarding Planning, Zoning and Development Regulations. Be sure to explain how this helps reduce the soft cost of solar PV in your community (up to 20 points).




Icon courtesy of James Fenton from Noun Project.