Currently, the restrictive covenants for the Hanover HOA on page 30 states:
Section 7.17 Solar Panels. No solar energy collector panels or attendant hardware or other energy energy conservation equipment shall be constructed or installed on any Lot.
The question now facing the homeowners in Hanover is whether this prohibition is reasonable and warranted.
The following information is provided to educate home owners living in the Hanover Home Owner Association located in Franklin Township of Marion County, IN.
There is a U.S. Department of Energy Report on private land use restrictions and Solar:
- Bringing Solar Energy to the Planned Community: A Handbook on Rooftop Solar Systems and Private Land Use Restrictions. You can download this report as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file (62 pages, 1.0 MB).
- The DOE report notes the problem:"The problem arises in the context of the association's architectural controls, commonly found in its declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). The developer creates these CC&Rs to ensure the uniform appearance and preserve the 'curb appeal' of the project throughout its construction and build-out phase. After the development phase is completed, the responsibility for interpreting and enforcing the architectural controls is passed onto a Homeowner Association and its Architectural Review Committee made up of elected members of the community. In the hands of an overzealous ARC, CC&Rs can become a straightjacket to solar development."
Sample HOA solar guidelines
The board adopts these guidelines to promote the use of solar energy for heating and cooling and to ensure uniform installation and design of solar energy systems.
- Homeowners should first consider all existing structures and landscaping before selecting a site for any proposed solar system.
- All plans must be preapproved by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) prior to installation.
- Preferred location of solar panels is either a ground-mounted array (on the side or rear of the house) or a rear-facing, roof-mounted array. Flush-mounted panels (i.e. – the plane of the array is parallel to the roof) on a roof facing a street will be allowed if documentation is provided from the solar contractor indicating this is the only feasible location for a solar array. If panels are installed on a side or rear roof, the array may be tilted or raised if a variance is granted.
- All components of the solar system should be integrated into the design of the home. The color of the solar system components should generally conform to the color of the roof shingles to the extent practical. Solar “shingles” that mimic the look of a composite shingle are acceptable but should match the color of the current roof shingles as much as is practical.
- Pursuant to [insert applicable ordinance], the installation of all solar heating and cooling systems shall only be done by a licensed installer or journeyman plumber. Applications submitted to the ARC should include the following:
- A diagram “drawn to scale” by the licensed contractor installing the system showing where the system will be installed;
- Photos of the roof area where the array will be mounted;
- Material to be used and/or manufacturer’s description of the system, photos and/or pictures of the system and color of the system.
- Where possible, provide photos of similar existing systems as examples.
- Piping and electrical connections will be located directly under and/or within the perimeter of the panels, when possible, and placed as inconspicuously as possible when viewed from all angles.
- The highest point of a solar panel array will be lower than the ridge of the roof where it is attached.
- All painted surfaces will be kept in good repair.
- Changes to adjacent property should not impede an existing or soon-to-be-installed solar system or interfere with any existing solar energy easement. [insert applicable ordinance]
A variance to certain sections of these guidelines may be granted if compliance with these guidelines would significantly increase the purchase price of the solar system or significantly decrease its performance or efficiency. If a homeowner seeks a variance they must provide a minimum of two bids depicting the cost of installation of the solar systems – one bid in compliance with these guidelines and a second bid depicting the desired alternative location, unless the variance represents the only feasible installation location. The ARC may require bids or estimates from a second contractor in order to make an informed decision.
(Source: Creekside Homeowners’ Association Solar Guidelines. Available online: http://lohrman.com/blogimage/ApprovedGuidelines.pdf)
Sample HOA green mission statement
[Insert HOA name] is dedicated to identifying ways to provide internal and external cost savings, while providing a sustainable benefit to our economy, ecology and community.
[Insert HOA name] will bring the neighbors of our community together to achieve and preserve a vibrant community for living, working, learning and playing.
Goals: We are committed to strengthening our community by:
- promoting neighborliness, cooperation and goodwill among the members of our community;
- collecting and distributing information that is relevant to the [insert name] community to keep residents informed;
- working with officials, citizens and organizations to maintain the safety and beauty of our community and to ensure the availability of public and private community services;
- encouraging environmental community practices in order to safeguard the health and well-being of the residents in our neighborhood, as well as the environmental health of our community;
- facilitating community conversation and consensus on important topics and providing a community voice where possible;
- encouraging responsible development that includes diversity in housing and consideration for the environment;
- promoting [insert HOA name] as a vital and prosperous business community. (if applicable)
Sample covenant language
The [insert name of community] covenants have been designed to put into place procedures that will carry forward the [insert name of community] desire to enhance the quality of life and improve the environment. In order to ensure that property owners have the freedom to employ alternative energy solutions if desired, solar collectors may be placed on a dwelling or in the back or side yard of the property, located in such a way as not to obstruct windows of adjacent homes.