We all know the benefits of installing solar power systems in one’s home but officials in some towns of the United States are concerned that solar panels could offend the neighbors. Hackensack is the latest New Jersey municipality to consider restricting the panels in front yards.
Hackensack officials want to require homeowners to install shields for those in the side yards as well as special approval for solar panels placed on street-facing roofs. There are still no concrete details with regards to the rules.
Matt Weng, staff attorney at the League of Municipalities, the rules are merely speculative as solar technology is still too expensive for most homeowners. Majority of North Jersey solar installations are found in commercial and public buildings. The League of Municipalities is a statewide organization that advises and trains officials in New Jersey.
Weng added that most officials are betting that the technology would be available to the masses because solar panels have already become cheaper as the technology improves. Most officials consult the League of Municipalities for solar ordinances.
Officials are concerned about how solar panels impact the quality of life of the people around solar installations. Officials are more worried about the aesthetics of the neighborhood rather than determining how the area can benefit from solar power systems.
Hackensack City manager Steve Lo Iacono said that city officials are still deliberating what regulations they would enact but an ordinance would be ready for voting as early as Tuesday. He added that the officials don’t want to stop the growth of solar power or make it difficult for homeowners to install solar panels. They say that it’s for safety and aesthetics’ sake.
Aside from the rules regarding shielding panels from view, Hackensack is also considering laws that would require solar power systems to comply with safety and electrical standards. This includes stability during storms.
The League of Municipalities has a sample ordinance that has five pages of restrictions that include a requirement that rooftop installations must follow the slope of the roof and installed at the back; panels should be made of materials that blend with the surroundings; ground installations are restricted to the back of the property that has at least three acres; and ban on tower or pole mounted panels.
Municipal officials are sensitive to potential problems with regards to solar installations after P&G received a lot of backlash with regards to its solar panels installed on utility poles across New Jersey in 2011.