Resident appealing solar-panel rejection

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Worthington resident Patrick Rogers has appealed a Sept. 27 decision by the Worthington Architectural Review Board, which rejected his request to to install 25 solar panels on his house at 150 W. New England St.

Patrick Rogers said he is appealing a decision by the Worthington Architectural Review Board to reject his request to install 25 solar panels on his house at 150 W. New England St.

The ARB on Sept. 27 voted 4-3 against issuing a Rogers a certificate of appropriateness that would have allowed him to put the panels on his house, which is in the city's historic district.

David Foust, Richard Schuster, Edwin L. Hofmann and Thomas Reis voted against the proposal.

"I very much wish that they could have those panels on the back of the house," Schuster said.

Mikel Coulter, Kathy Holcombe and Susan Hinz voted in favor of the measure.

"I feel this application, if there's any location that would be acceptable, I think this applicant has met it," Hinz said.

Rogers said he filed his appeal Oct. 1.

He is taking his appeal to Worthington City Council, which three years ago lifted a moratorium on solar panels while approving a resolution that amended design guidelines for regulation within the city’s architectural-review district.

Rogers said the solar panels on his house would be compatible with historic-district guidelines and also aesthetically pleasing – black panels on a black roof.

He said his house is not architecturally significant, having been built in 1959.

"They wouldn't look that much different than a skylight," he said.

The configuration calls for two rows of seven on the main middle roof, two rows of three on the garage and five on the far west roof.

All face south toward the street. Without that design, the system would produce 30% less energy, Rogers said.

"It's because we're still in the northern hemisphere, so typically solar panels have to face south," he said.

Facing south, the panels would produce enough electricity – in some cases, slightly more – to power his house, he said.

Rogers said he pays $160 to $170 a month for electricity bills.

He said he is under contract with Moxie Solar, based in North Liberty, Iowa.

The solar-panel system costs $16,538, with payments of $129 a month until it is paid off, said Rich Tilden of Moxie Solar.

Potential cost savings are not Rogers' motive.

"That's not why I'm doing it," he said. "I'm doing it to replace coal.

"I feel like this is the future. We should be driving down the street and seeing these on every house."

The city, in its 2017 resolution based on suggested guidelines from council member Scott Myers, said it encourages energy conservation while maintaining the integrity of the historic district.

Related story:Future brightens for solar panels

The resolution sets out several general criteria that must be met, including placing solar panels in a location that minimizes the visual impact as seen from the right of way and surrounding properties, ensuring that panels visible from the right of way do not alter the historic character of a property and maintaining and preserving the character of the structure.

Also, the resolution proposed only guidelines to be followed by the ARB, which leaves room for interpretation, Rogers said.

"I get that they have aesthetic standards, but I don't feel that they applied the standards to my request," Rogers said.

To appeal, Rogers had to file a notice 10 days from the date of of the decision and identify the application and reason for the appeal to City Council, said Lynda Bitar, planning coordinator for the city of Worthington.

Council has 30 days after the first hearing to place it on an agenda and decide whether the appeal would be heard, Bitar said.

As of Sept. 29, it was unclear when council would add the item to the agenda to decide whether to hear the case, she said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary