Solar panels on historic Cleveland home stirs debate - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Solar panels on historic Cleveland home stirs debate

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A bit of the future has collided with the past in Cleveland.

A homeowner recently installed solar panels on his historic Cleveland home but the panels violate guidelines established by the Historical Preservation Commission.

"We don't drive around and look for things that don't meet the guidelines, but then this was brought to our attention," says Maryl Elliott.

Elliott is the vice chairperson for the Cleveland Historic Preservation Commission.

"Our planner was misinformed that these panels would not be, he was told that they would not be seen from the street. And they are very visible from the street," says Elliott.

She is referring to the more than 20 solar panels on the garage of the home on 15th Street.

Established in 2004, the commission created a set of guidelines to preserve the historic character of homes in the historic district and protect property values.

Under the 'rules,' solar panels should not be seen from the street.    

"You can put them in the backyard. You can even put them on a pole, you know, free-standing solar panels but they don't need to be seen from the street. It takes away from the historic neighborhood. You wouldn't have solar panels on a 100 year old house."

City Planner Corey Divel approved the panels with the understanding shrubbery would block them from view. He calls it a misunderstanding.

"I had no idea it was going to look like that. I had no idea. I drove over there and I thought, 'Well, that's not at all what I was expecting,'" says Divel.

The man's wife told Channel 3 the family did not want to comment about the panels.

As for some of his neighbors, they see both sides of the property debate.

"It's theirs and they should do what they want to with it, but then again, that's part of living in the historical district," says historic district resident Mitchell Guinn.

"It's nothing vindictive. I'm sure the gentleman that put them up, he's going to save money on his heating bill, that's important to everybody. But they're just not in the right place," says Elliott.

 The preservation commission takes this issue before the Cleveland city council on June 22. From there, the city can decide if it wants to impose fines or even take the homeowner to court.
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