Solar Panels & Historic Buildings

By Cathy Galbraith

During 2009-2010, many of us devoted considerable energy to a package of city code amendments (RICAP-5, short for Regulatory Improvement Code Amendments Package.) Many of the amendments were related to Green Building technologies. After a series of public workshops and public hearings before the Landmarks and Planning Commissions, City Council adopted it with plenty of amendments. RICAP-5 created standards for installing solar panels in historic and conservation districts, including historic design review.

Now there are solar companies who feel that this process is too restrictive, using historic districts like Ladd’s Addition as an example. They are asking City Council to remove the historic design review requirement. We all understand and support solar energy, but installations need to be done so they don’t damage the historic features and views of historic houses.

To illustrate our concerns, here are just a few examples of solar panel installations that leave a lot to be desired:



We hope that City Council doesn’t take action to unilaterally eliminate historic design review; at the very least, this issue should be referred back to the Landmarks Commission for public review. Our Mayor and City Council need to hear from all of us and our concerns, as do directors at the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (Susan Anderson) and the Bureau of Development Services (Paul Scarlett).

Please let Mayor Sam Adams and City Council hear from you now! Historic Design review for solar panels on historic buildings should be retained – it was developed following considerable public testimony. If Council chooses to open this issue back up, it needs to be returned to the Landmarks Commission.

Mayor Sam Adams
Commissioner Randy Leonard
Commissioner Amanda Fritz
Commissioner Nick Fish
Commissioner Dan Saltzman

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1 Comment

Filed under Historic Preservation

One response to “Solar Panels & Historic Buildings

  1. Brian

    There’s this thing called property rights. It’s what distinguishes freedom from totalitarianism. Whether or not you, or any group of people who are not the owners of a property like the way a property is being used is irrelevant. Unless that property owner is damaging your property, or the property of another, he has the right to put up whatever kind of solar power arrangement he’d like. Please do not ask that the city, or some other non-property owner, attempt to stifle his rights. Frankly, it is sad you would even suggest such a thing.

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