More than a year after discussion began about the usage of solar panels by homeowners, the Planning Commission reached a final draft of of such energy production.
The ordinance was approved unanimously by the city council this week and includes more detail, including a variety of definitions, than the first version the planning commission considered.
Similar to the draft discussed in February the final ordinance requires the following:
- No freestanding solar panels.
- Solar panels installed on a roof must not come within three feet of a peak or valley to ensure accessibility.
- The solar panels must not be higher than six inches above the current roof if flush-mounting is not a possibility; the roof must be designed to disguise the protrusion
- The solar panels must have an automatic shut off that can be employed in the event of an emergency, such as a fire.
- The solar panels must have non-reflective surfaces and match the existing roof closely so as to be less noticeable.
- Installation of solar panels will require the approval of the planning commission and require a special land use permit.
- Installation shall not require clearcutting or extensive removal of trees or greenery.
The chairwoman of the Planning Commission, Mary Matuja, told council she was confident about this version of the ordinance and believes it is flexible enough to incorporate the changing technology of solar panels.
One of the biggest concerns related to solar panels aside from the aesthetics was the safety and encountering such energy-producing panels during an emergency, such as a fire.
Matuja and Director of Public Safety John Schulte recently met with a person they identified as a solar panel expert, who described to them the operation of solar panels, the differences between a variety of types and how to deal with them in responding to a fire or another emergency.
Schulte told the council he was confident the safety of officers would not be compromised as long as residents follow the ordinance and explained the level of detail the expert provided.
In addition to approving the new ordinance, the council also lifted its . The moratorium was put in place as a preventative measure so the planning commission could draft the ordinance. because the commission did not have a draft ready for council's review.
Discussion regarding solar panels began because of that drew the attention of some of the planning commission members.