Weekly Feature



2018-06-21 / Front Page

Planning Board to examine solar panels issue for 60 days

by CHRIS GRAHAM
Editor

Attempting to find out more information about the use of solar panels on the front of buildings in Orchard Park, the Town Board has charged the Planning Board with taking a look at specific areas that may affect residents.

Councilman Michael Sherry said the council asked the Planning Board to look into whether solar panels on the front roof of a structure would have a negative impact on property values, and to see if there are recommended specifications that would make roof-mounted solar panels appropriate around town, but especiallyin residential neighborhoods.

“Technologies are constantly changing, and we need to consider where those technologies are at and how that might impact the current prohibition,” Sherry said. “Obviously there’s concerns about safety, with any glare off of it, and not all solar panels are created equal when you think about their appearance.”

The Planning Board will have 60 days to present its findings to the town. This charge has no impact on the town cleaning up its language in a public hearing on prohibiting solar panels from being on the front of a residence. The Town Board took no action on the local law during its June 20 meeting.

The original ordinance was based upon a model provided by the New York State Association of Towns, according to Sherry. That code was enacted in November.

Those who want to appeal to the town about placing solar panels on the front of their residence can go to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“If they have a house way off the road and that’s the side that most faces the sun, then the Zoning Board might grant them a variance,” he said.

Sherry added that residents can get solar panels on other sides of their house, just not on the front due to the ordinance.

The idea of prohibiting solar panels in the front has faced opposition from numerous residents in town, with two speaking up during the board’s May 16 meeting.

Once the board receives the Planning Board’s report, Sherry said the three-man board will examine the will of the community in regard to solar panels compared to the opinions of the Town and Planning boards, and what environmental impact there might be regarding the prohibition against front roof-mounted solar panels.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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