Let the Sun Shine In
With plans in hand, Michele Hannoosh and Richard Janko approached the Ann Arbor, Michigan, building department in mid-2007 for permission to install a photovoltaic solar system on the roof of their single-family house. After some initial confusion, Hannoosh says, "it was pretty easy" to pass the inspections. The whole process — from contacting local solar contractors to getting permits to turning on the lights — took about five months.
Ann Arbor is not the only city that is catching up with residential demand for renewable energy. Home owners baffled by confusing permit requirements are approaching planning departments for help all over the country. In response, planners from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Portland, Oregon, are scrambling to revise their codes and streamline permitting processes.
But incorporating solar technology into zoning codes can be complicated. Solar energy systems involve a broad spectrum of planning interests: safety, economics, environmental, and visual aspects that affect the quality of life and involve many groups, from home owners to utility companies to fire departments. Even more stakeholders will be involved in the future, given the federal government's growing support of renewable energy sources. [Read full article]
By Corry Berkooz,
American Planning Association - Planning Magazine June 08