|Bronxville passes solar energy regulations|
|Written by Greg Maker|
|Thursday, 16 September 2010 14:38|
|Too restrictive, says local business owner
The Bronxville Village Board passed an ordinance to regulate the installation of solar energy panels in the village but not without controversy. An Eastchester businessman, who had recently put up a solar panel on a flagpole on his property, voiced his concern to the board about how regulations would negatively affect the community from using renewable energy.
Patrick Gasparro, owner of Nature’s Cradle Nursery on Mill Road in Eastchester, protested the regulations shortly before they were voted upon by the board. A Tuckahoe resident, Gasparro said he protested the law in Bronxville because that is where a lot of his customers live. One of the regulations prohibits solar energy equipment from being located on the front yard of the property and from being visible from an adjacent street. Furthermore the law states that any solar energy system cannot be “visibly intrusive” to surrounding properties nor unnecessarily bright, shiny or reflective.
“The village should be endorsing solar panels as beautiful,” Gasparro said. “A solar panel is supposed to be bright. Even if it were ugly, you should emphasize their inner beauty. They stem from a positive nature. They are not something ugly that needs to be removed. This law implies that solar panels are ugly and would damage the aesthetics of the town. This is confusing to people.”
Mayor Mary Marvin (R) stated that the law is a “balancing act” to accommodate the needs of the most possible residents. She noted that Bronxville is the third of 48 municipalities in Westchester County to begin a renewable energy initiative and was commended by the county government for it.
“Frankly we are proud of this,” Marvin said. “This is the first step to moving in the direction of renewable energy. Sometimes by regulating, something we are encouraging it. Not everyone sees solar panels as beautiful. If I put an unwieldy structure in my yard the neighbors might be discouraged from using them themselves.”
Village Attorney James Staudt explained that if someone wants to install a solar panel that does not fit within the regulations of the new ordinance, they have the right to go before the village’s zoning board for a variance. If the zoning board prohibits it, the person may go before the planning board to try to find out what the right balance would be.
“Solar and other renewable energy are positive things,” Staudt said. “However, if they are built in a bad way they can be obtrusive.”
Under the new ordinance, the solar panel on Gasparro’s flagpole is now illegal. The ordinance states that ground-mounted solar panels cannot be taller than 6.5 feet, which Gasparro’s flagpole is. He feels that the ordinance will discourage people who would potentially use solar panels from using them.
“Why can’t we put a solar panel on a flagpole?” Gasparro asked. “Why shouldn’t we be proud of what we are doing and make it patriotic at the same time? Shouldn’t the board decide what is right and just do it? Why not go all the way instead of worrying about a certain percentage of people who may disagree with it?”
The ordinance does state that the intent and purpose of the new legislation is to “allow” and “encourage” non-solar energy alternative or renewable energy systems.
“The intent is to balance the desirability and demand for alternative energy systems with maintaining the aesthetics of the village and minimize the potential for any negative impact by these systems; and to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents of the village,” the ordinance reads.
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