Home Owners Win in Court with City Over Solar Panel Dispute
On June 29, the Cole County Circuit Court entered Judgment in favor of James and Frances Babb and the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association (MOSEIA) in a lawsuit filed against the City of Clarkson Valley, Missouri concerning the Cityâ€™s attempt to impose local regulations on the installation of residential solar panels.
Judge Daniel Green ruled that State law confers a legally protectable right to the Babbs to use solar energy at their property and because state regulations adopted by the Missouri Public Service Commission impose state-wide standards on the Babbsâ€™ proposed residential solar system, Clarkson Valley cannot impose local ordinances which are more restrictive or which serve to prohibit the Babbsâ€™ residential solar system.
The Babbs first submitted an application for a building permit for their system to Clarkson Valley on November 1, 2011. Instead of acting on the application, the Cityâ€™s Board of Aldermen imposed a â€œmoratoriumâ€ and then later enacted two ordinances imposing additional requirements on residential solar systems and requiring applicants to obtain a special use permit. After the Babbsâ€™ submitted an application for a special use permit, which was approved by the Cityâ€™s Planning & Zoning Commission, the Clarkson Valley Board of Aldermen then denied the application on March 6, 2012 by a 6-0 vote without any explanation.
â€œWe are very pleased with the ruling,â€ said James Babb. Babb added, â€œWe hope to have our system up and running soon.â€
â€œThe basis of the Courtâ€™s decision is the legal doctrine of preemption,â€ said Steve Jeffery, an attorney in Clayton, who represents the Babbs. Jeffery added, â€œBecause Clarkson Valley was imposing additional and more restrictive requirements, over and above the PSC requirements, and because the Board of Aldermen denied the special use permit, the City was in effect prohibiting an activity that the PSC rules allow.â€
The Court found that the challenged ordinances â€œ impose requirements that are more restrictive than, inconsistent with, and in conflict withâ€ the PSCâ€™s rules. In addition, the Court found the ordinance requiring a special use permit â€œcreates an unlawful condition precedent that is inconsistent and in conflict withâ€ the PSC rules. The Courtâ€™s Order further states the Cityâ€™s March 6, 2012 decision denying the Babbsâ€™ application for a special use permit was â€œarbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and an abuse of discretion.â€
â€œIn November 2008, 67% of Missouri voters approved Proposition C, the renewable energy standard,â€ said Dane Glueck, MOSEIAâ€™s President. Glueck added, â€œWith this ruling, we hope that local governments will recognize the strengths and benefits of residential solar systems, and MOSEIA looks forward to working with local officials to address any local concerns.â€
clarkson valley missouri, energy industries association, residential solar panels, solar energy industries, Solar Energy Industries Association
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