Board allows solar panel
JANESVILLE The city's Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously Tuesday to allow a 21-foot-high solar unit in the back yard of a home at 1036 Sentinel Drive.
Jon Wangerin, vice chairman of the board, asked that the city consider developing an ordinance so residents would not need a variance review from the appeals board.
City code allows a detached structure to be no greater than 14 feet tall.
General guidelines of a possible ordinance could include a panel's placement behind the principal structure and a requirement to minimize the shadow it creates on neighboring properties.
Neighbors of Philip and Sharon Schuman worried that the panel would harm the neighborhood's aesthetics and property values. The panel is 225 square feet in area.
But the board of appeals after studying case law decided the applicable statute allows the board to consider only public health and safety.
The statute says no county, city, town or village may place restrictions on the installation or use of a solar or wind energy system unless the restrictions protect public health or safety or do not increase the cost of the system or decrease its efficiency.
Wangerin had asked at an earlier meeting whether Alliant could set up another location—a field, for example—where the solar unit could be located and a comparable rate of return achieved for the petitioner. Staff said Alliant does not currently offer any comparable program in Wisconsin where solar collection can be done "off-site" for a private property.