Solar Panels vs HOA

1 comments Friday, November 13, 2009

Architecture, be it commercial, residential, large, or small, is subject to a seemingly infinite amount of regulation. The regulations span from the pragmatic health, safety, and welfare regulations of the international building codes to the most ambiguous, subjective usually enforced by home owner associations(HOA) and community architectural review boards(CARB). Such groups range in their oversight and authority, but are in place to guarantee that the overall aesthetic and perceived value of a community is maintained.
One item that many communities have banned for years are solar panels, be they for hot water or electricity generation. Today, the fastest growing economy in this down market seems to be the "green" economy, and domestic solar may very well be the Prius of tomorrow. Even with solar powered homes leading the headlines of just about every real estate section, many homeowners are finding that their HOA and CARB prevent them from installing solar. Many groups have even forced homeowners to remove systems that where installed without community approval.
The authority to enforce restrictions on solar installations is quietly being taken way from HOAs and CARBs. To bolster their tax incentive programs for homeowners to invest in renewables, many states have enacted laws that prevent HOAs and CARBs from having the power to prevent citizens from installing solar panels.
Such legislation was introduced on a federal level in 2007 but seems to have died in committee. It is my understanding that the new, house-passed Energy and Climate Bill includes a provision which would have the same effect.
R. Michael Cross Design Group was proud to assist a client in Maryland this last week after he received a request from his CARB stating he had to remove his newly installed solar panels. Luckily, in the State of Maryland, Bill 117 denies HOAs and CARBs this authority.
Read On