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james779's avatar

Subdivision Rule Discrimination?

Asked by james779 (4points) March 26th, 2011

I have recently install a solar array (solar electric system) at my home. Instead of installing on the roof I used a ground mount system, it is on pipe structure in yard. I had everything fully approved by all 3 trustees. Passed all inspections by local municipality and now 3 people in subdivision want me to take down the system. The 3 trustees are about to change their mind and rescind approval. I don’t think they can. They also said because of the controversy they will more than likely ammend the rules to ban all solar panels from subdivision.

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8 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

Is it visible from the street? Are they mistaking it for a satellite dish?

james779's avatar

yes it is visible from the street.

lynfromnm's avatar

I would think if the trustees change their minds after you have gone to the expense, they would have to pay for any changes. Don’t trustees enforce the subdivision covenants? Do your covenants say anything about the trustees changing their minds every time they get pressure from someone?

But I gotta say, what idiots your trustees are, if they discourage energy efficiency. This is wave of the present, not just the future. It’s just as dumb as those people in Martha’s Vineyard who object to the wind farm there. What’s their solution to clean efficient energy? People should be encouraged to use solar panels, not punished for it.

You need to review the covenants to determine whether the trustees have a right to make you dissemble the structure, and what recourse you have fro any grievances. Covenants are different in every subdivision. You may need to hire an attorney to protect your investment.

james779's avatar

There is no mistaking it. The dimensions are 27 ft wide x 12 ft tall. There are 20 panels (5 across and 4 high).

The installations meets all the rules of the subdivision. The 3 people against the installation are bending a rule to meet their needs by trying to redifine the word structure to fit into the definition of the word building. We have a set back rule for buildings not structures.

The funny thing is we have multiple rules being broke throughout the subdivision where the trustees made exceptions such as fences are not suppose to be over 42 inches high (ridiculous but still a rule). No clothes lines allowed. One of the persons threatening lawsuit is in violation of both of these rules.

Does anyone know of anything similar happening and the outcome.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@james779 I once lived in a subdivision like yours. It would be best for you to consult an attorney pronto.

lynfromnm's avatar

To me, the point is that you followed all the rules and were approved. If they are going to rescind that decision, I think they have to pay for it. You should make that clear—you’re out a lot of money, even though you followed their procedures. Those other people, with the fences too high, did NOT follow the procedure.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I don’t think they would be able to change a rule “after the fact” unless they currently have a rule that satellite dishes cannot be visible from the street. In which case the argument could be that the intent of that rule is violated by a solar panel, while not a satellite dish, being similar to a satellite dish in terms of violating the regulations. If the board had their act together, they would have held off on approving your solar panel until they had a chance to review and amend the restriction document to determine what the restrictions, if any, on solar panels should be.

I would suggest that you get a lawyer. This really isn’t about the solar panels itself, but about how the approval process works and how the restrictions are interpreted/amended. If they are going to make you move it, you should be able to negotiate them paying the expense because you’re not in violation.

I live in a historic district, and we go through this sort of stuff all the time.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@james779 Document that you had this approved previously by the trustees. In front of a judge you will look like the responsible resident that you are and if you are made to take it down, request that the cost comes out of the subdivison dues account. I don’t think you have anything to worry about though.

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