Planning panel OKs easing solar power rules
By Susan Frick Carlman firstname.lastname@example.org February 25, 2013 3:40PM
Andrew, Zac and Deanna Close hold a solar panel they plan to install on their Naperville home. | Submitted
Updated: March 28, 2013 6:07AM
It soon could be easier to capture the power of the sun that beams down on Naperville.
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission have put their support behind a code change that, if it garners the blessing of the City Council, will eliminate the need for a homeowner to secure a conditional use permit to install a solar collector on the home’s roof.
Community planner Allison Laff, who outlined the change at the required public hearing recently, explained that the process could be simplified and shortened considerably from the current rules requiring a petition and public hearing, formulation of a recommendation by the commission and then Council approval.
Most commissioners fully favored the code adjustment.
“We want to encourage renewable energy,” Kevin Coyne said, suggesting the existing process may have the opposite effect.
Calling it “a very positive use of technology,” commission member Tom Dabareiner also emphasized the plus of solar energy’s home applications.
“As long as building code is being met, and all zoning requirements are being met, it’s really no different than any other minor addition to a house or other structure,” he said.
Greg Bruno, acting chairman for the commission meeting, expressed some reservations about the lack of provisions for neighbors to weigh in when a homeowner lays plans for a rooftop solar collector.
“So they won’t receive any notice until people show up to put the system in? ... They may have objections to it, and under these changes, they would have no recourse,” Bruno said.
Laff confirmed the interpretation.
“I think what we mean when we say that we’re making something permitted by right is that we’re encouraging these systems in the city... that the benefit of what they’ll be doing is outweighing the potential aesthetic concerns,” she said.
Bruno joined the other commissioners in supporting the change, but will forward his concerns to the Council as part of the advisory memo.
Commission member Patty Meyer clarified that the code adjustment doesn’t mean open season for any and all solar energy systems.
“Even though we’re allowing this as a permitted use, you still need to apply for a permit,” she said.