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Last Updated July 12, 2021

Program Overview

Category:

Regulatory Policy

State:

North Carolina

Incentive Type:

Solar/Wind Access Policy

Administrator:

N/A

Start Date:

N/A

Expiration Date:

N/A

Web Site:

N/A

Applicable Sectors:

N/A

Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:

N/A

Summary

Cities and counties in North Carolina generally may not adopt ordinances prohibiting the installation of "a solar collector that gathers solar radiation as a substitute for traditional energy for water heating, active space heating and cooling, passive heating, or generating electricity for residential property."(§ 160D-914.a)* 

However, this does not prohibit development regulation regulating the location and screening of solar collectors as described previously, provided the regulation does not have the effect of preventing the reasonable use of a solar collector for a residential property. (§ 160D-914.b)

Nor does this prevent development regulation that would prohibit the location of solar collectors that are visible by a person on the ground and that are any of the following: (§ 160D-914.c.(1)(2)(3))

  1. On the façade of a structure that faces areas open to common or public access.
  2.  On a roof surface that slopes downward toward the same areas open to common or public access that the façade of the structure faces.
  3. Within the area set off by a line running across the façade of the structure extending to the property boundaries on either side of the façade, and those areas of common or public access faced by the structure.


Furthermore, any deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreement that runs with the land that would prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, the installation of a solar collector for a residential property on land subject to the deed restriction, covenant, or agreement is void and unenforceable. However, this does not apply to solar collector that are visible by a person on the ground:

  1. On the façade of a structure that faces areas open to common or public access;
  2. On a roof surface that slopes downward toward the same areas open to common or public access that the façade of the structure faces; or
  3. Within the area set off by a line running across the façade of the structure extending to the property boundaries on either side of the façade, and those areas of common or public access faced by the structure.

In any civil action related to North Carolina's solar-access laws, the court may award costs and reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party.


Definitions:

Residential Property (§ 22B-20.b): The term "residential property" means property where the predominant use is for residential purposes. The term "residential property" does not include any condominium created under Chapter 47A or 47C of the General Statutes located in a multi-story building containing units having horizontal boundaries described in the declaration.

*SB 670 of 2007 used the term "detached single-family residences". HB 1387 of 2009 changed this term to "residential property". The sections of the bill dealing with city and county ordinances use a simple definition for residential property: "property where the predominant use is for residential purposes." The section of the bill dealing with deed restrictions and covenants uses a more nuanced definition for residential property, specifically stating: "residential property does not include any condominium created under Chapter 47A or 47C of the General Statutes located in a multi-story building containing units having horizontal boundaries described in the declaration. As used in this section, the term "declaration" has the same meaning as in G.S. 47A-3 or G.S. 47C-1-103, depending on the chapter of the General Statutes under which the condominium was created."


Other info:

SB 670 of 2007 established that the law applied only to deed restrictions, covenants or similar binding agreements recorded after October 1, 2007. HB 1387, in amending the law to apply to a wider definition of "residential property", established that the law only applies to property fitting the new definition if the deed restriction or covenant was recorded after December 1, 2009.