Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the Summit
Members of the Breckenridge Planning Commission will be deciding if, when and
where to allow solar panels in the historic core of town tonight.
one of the first steps in the process of tightening town policies on solar panel
installations in downtown Breckenridge, an issue that has sparked controversy
among residents in recent years.
“We're trying to balance the issue of
the character in the historic district with the use of sustainable resources,”
planning manager Chris Neubecker said.
The key question before planning
commissioners will be whether to allow freestanding solar panel arrays for
commercial and residential use in downtown Breckenridge, which are not currently
prohibited by the town planning codes.
Current town policies regarding
solar panels were put in place several years ago, but town leaders at the time
primarily considered the issue of panels being installed on historic homes and
didn't go into the question of arrays on or near larger buildings.
really thought this through when we did it originally,” said planning
commissioner Eric Mamula, who was on the town council when the solar panel
policies were initially adopted. “But stuff always comes up. We didn't really
even think of the larger buildings with flat roofs. There's some new territory
we're covering now.”
With approval from the planning commission the
draft of revised solar panel policies will go before the town council for
discussion as a new law.
The proposed policy changes call for
flush-mounted solar panels to be allowed on sloped roofs, even if they are
visible from a public street or alley. But solar devices on flat roofs and
detached stand-alone arrays would be allowed only if they were not visible from
nearby streets or alleys.
Town officials say they hope a community solar
garden planned for the McCain property north of town will provide an alternative
for business owners and residents in downtown Breck who want to use clean
energy, but can't get solar panels approved on or near their own property.
“We think that would be a viable option for property owners almost
anywhere to buy into solar and renewable energy without having panels on their
property,” Neubecker said. “That would give them an option to use renewable
energy and get credit, but not have any visual impacts on their property.”
The solar panel discussion was renewed last fall when the owners of the
Lincoln West Mall, on the corner of Main Street and Lincoln Avenue applied to
install the devises on the flat roof of the building.
structures and panels themselves would have been visible from nearby Ridge
Street, prompting the town government to review the existing rules.
application was latter withdrawn.
The issue of solar panels in the
downtown historic district gained attention two years ago when the Breckenridge
Town Council considered a proposal to install solar arrays on several town-owned
facilities including the Riverwalk Center and Breckenridge Golf Club, eliciting
a wave of outrage from community members who considered them to be too ugly for
the carefully protected core of town.
The town later killed the
“I'm a big supporter of solar panels, but I think the place
needs to be appropriate,” Councilman Mark Burke said at the time. “Councils long
before me have created codes to maintain the historic beauty of Breckenridge.
Solar panels will never be historical.”
But the council took no action
at the time to amend the town's codes or laws to ban solar panels on private
structures in the core of town.
The planning commission is slated to
discuss the issue at 7:15 tonight in the council chambers at Breckenridge Town
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News