Worthington City Council will review resident's solar-panel appeal
Worthington City Council on Oct. 19 unanimously approved a paper review of an appeal filed by a resident denied permission to install solar panels on his house.
Patrick Rogers submitted his appeal Oct. 1 after his application for a certificate of appropriateness to install 25 solar panels on his West New England Street home in Worthington’s historic district was rejected 4-3 on Sept. 27 by the Worthington Architectural Review Board.
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City Council decided to move forward with the review to determine if the ARB applied the design guidelines correctly as they pertain to solar-panel regulation within the city. The review will be conducted during council’s scheduled Zoom meeting Nov. 9.
“Just looking at it from a paper review, the actual guidelines are ambiguous, and I think the ARB had a difficult time interpreting them and applying them,” council member Beth Kowalczyk said. “So I think it merits a review over exactly what the guidelines say in terms of this particular case, and then also considering the bigger question at hand.”
“Given the significance of the issues that coalesce around solar panels, everything from the nature of our historic district to the threat of climate change ... and the ambiguity of the regulations themselves and the 4-3 (ARB) vote, I very much would like to hear the appeal and be able to have council weigh in on this important topic,” council member David Robinson said.
Council President Bonnie Michael said Rogers’ case “crosses right at the intersection” between the city’s efforts to balance sustainability while maintaining historical integrity.
“I think we all understand that there’s a big issue between how you balance sustainability and the preservation of the historic district,” Michael said. “They’ve both been highly prized goals of members of our community.”
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Those guidelines discouraged front-facing panels unless certain criteria were met, but they otherwise permitted solar-panel installation if they didn’t alter a property’s historic character, conform to the shape of a roof or were not grouped together throughout an entire area of the roof, according to the 2017 resolution.
Rogers previously said his black solar panels would be visually appealing on his black roof and that his 150 W. New England St. home – which was constructed in 1959 – isn’t architecturally significant.