Letter: ZBA on wrong side of solar debate

To the Editor:
Thursday was decision time for the Zoning Board of Appeals on the appeal by a Canterbury Lane neighbor over placement of ground mounted solar panels on my friends’ property. The board agreed that the only two issues with the permit were the language surrounding the type of structure selected by the zoning enforcement officer and net metering language. Since the board seemed to agree that the issues were administrative errors or poor choices by the zoning officer, they could have accepted them and moved on or even changed the language themselves, since no one doubted what was intended. However, their choice defied logic, went counter to most of their discussion, and put Ridgefield on the wrong side of the renewable and solar energy movement, when the rest of the world is embracing it and even mandating it on future homes.
The ZBA both upheld the appeal, then added stiffer language to the ongoing project, with major costs and liability on my friends’ shoulders, and total protection with zero liability for the neighbor — as if my friends’ decision to install solar panels was some sort of wrong-doing on their part and required the ZBA’s protection. The board acknowledged that the neighbors do not own a right to a view over my friends’ property, and that “a 40-foot-high barn with a pink walls and solar panels on the roof could have been built and would have had no screening requirement,” yet the board’s decision mandated screening paid for by my friends with no responsibility on the neighbor, who has no ownership of the view.
It seems like the battle over a view that someone doesn’t own won out over the goal to have the lowest possible carbon footprint. Sad.
Stephen Smith
Turtle Ridge Court, Feb. 11