Kinnelon Considers Regulating Solar Devices
Mayor questions whether borough should allow wind turbines on residents' properties.
As some residents continue to think of ways to live more "green," local government may have more cause to intervene.
Such is the case in Kinnelon, where one Smoke Rise resident's recently installed solar panels on their home have prompted the mayor and council to advise Borough Attorney Mark Madaio to begin drafting an ordinance that would clarify where residents can and cannot place solar panels and wind turbines on their property.
Madaio said many municipalities have considered and adopted "alternative energy ordinances" to address safety concerns associated with placement of solar panels. One concern is that if a home is on fire, solar panels placed on the lawn could impair firefighters' ability to get to the home as easily.
"You don't want people, in my estimation, putting them on the ground," Madaio said of the solar panels.
While drafting the ordinance for the solar panels, Madaio said he felt it would be the appropriate time for the mayor and council to make a decision on whether to allow wind turbines on residents' lawns.
"We do have some lots here that are big enough where people could theoretically put up wind turbines and could put up several of them," Madaio said.
Mayor Bob Collins said he was prompted to inquire about the ordinance after driving through Princeton and noticing a home that had several solar panels on the front lawn. Collins said he understood why some residents would want to have solar panels and wind turbines on their property to generate their own energy, but that the council had to take a stance on what to allow.
"Do we, as a town, want to have windmills all over the place?" he asked.
Councilman Dan O'Dougherty said he considered homes that would have solar panels or wind turbines on the lawns to be "an eyesore." Councilman Gary Moleta said he would not have a problem with allowing solar panels or wind turbines as long as the safety concerns of each were properly regulated.
Moleta also said that if the council does move forward on an ordinance, the borough should get in touch with the Kinnelon Board of Education, which recently approved a solar panel project on the roofs of three district schools.
What do you think? Should local government prohibit residents from having wind turbines and solar panels on their lawns? Participate in our poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments.