A solar panel case in Clifton that attracted heated attention was largely resolved Wednesday when a city architectural review committee approved the installation of the panels after-the-fact.
Clifton is a local preservation district, and homeowner Mark Frazar had been cited by the city for installing the panels in December 2014 without applying for a certificate of appropriateness that's required.
He must still obtain a building permit for the installation and was asked to fill in a gap by the chimney where the red roof showed through. Frazar, who works as a project manager for a local architectural office, said he didn't realize he needed approval for the panels.
Many people spoke in support of Frazar at an evening meeting of the Metro Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission's Clifton Architectural Review Committee, which voted to issue the certificate -- meaning Frazar didn't have to remove or move the panels. Frazar said he was satisfied with the outcome and hoped it would "help people work together" more.
The audience applauded when neighborhood leader Mike O'Leary urged approval.
Committee leader Jay Stottman said it was not a choice between preservation or solar installation but about the importance of finding solutions through the review process. After-the-fact reviews risk "putting the whole process in jeopardy," he said.
Frazar had said the panels needed to have southeast exposure to work, and Develop Louisville head Jim Mims said the panels were "not offensive, not in-your-face."
David Coyte, a Clifton Community Council leader, praised Frazar for his energy conservation efforts.
"That's they way we need to go," said David Doll, a facilities manager at St. James Church in Tyler Park, which is considering solar panels for its school.
But Phil Samuels, who worked on the 62-page list of guidelines for the district, said people needed to take more responsibility for being aware of the guidelines.
"He should have known," Samuels said. Frazer received staff approval for a new roof he also had put on, and a $100 fine he was issued was waived after he applied last fall for the certificate.
This article on the "solar panel civil war" in Clifton is very informative. On Day #1 I contacted the Mayor to plead for reasonable intervention on behalf of those who want solar panels. City bureaucrats shouldn't issue fines in cases like this. It's up to them to properly advise citizens about this overreaching review process and its existence. A normal citizen can't be expected to be expert in something so shadowy as this. City leaders want more solar panels and the old-time bureaucrats need to re-focus their efforts to be more modern and flexible with our energy policies.