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Court's Ruling Could Impact Town and Country Solar Panel Ordinance

Town and Country is waiting on a Clarkson Valley solar panel lawsuit ruling before putting a city ordinance in place. The ruling could impact how cities regulate solar energy.

The proposal for a city solar panel ordinance was continued indefinitely at Monday night's Town and Country Board of Aldermen meeting.

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The proposal has been continued since early October. Mayor Jon Dalton said Monday the reason for the delay is because there is a lawsuit still pending in a Clarkson Valley case that involves a city solar panel ordinance.

As previously reported by Patch, the City of Town and Country is considering an ordinance that would put guidelines in place for residents who want to install solar energy systems.  The proposed plan would allow resident's to install two types of solar panels, roof mounted and ground. The city prefers the roof mounted. It could also require residents to obtain a conditional use permit to install the panels. This requirement is what some Town and Country residents take issue with and it is also what's at the center of the lawsuit filed against the City of Clarkson Valley.

As previously reported by Patch, Clarkson Vally residents James and Frances Babb filed a lawsuit against the City of Clarkson Valley in a fight to install solar panels on their home. A judge ruled in their favor and the Babbs addressed Town and Country aldermen in October and urged them to consider their lawsuit before passing a city ordinance.

As the city looked into the matter, it discovered a portion of the lawsuit is still pending.

"Two thirds of the case has been decided, as I understand," City Attorney Steve Garrett explained. 

Garrett said if the defendant, the City of Clarkson Valley, appeals the case it could a direct impact on Town and Country's and other city's regulation of solar energy. He said the "hold up" is that any court decision could affect the legality of what Town and Country is working on.

"That matter isn't fully decided at this time," Garrett said. "We're trying to find out precisely what's going on with the case and that's one of the reasons I think it's a good idea to continue it (the ordinance) at this point."

"It just seems to me you'd want to wait for a final judgement on the one case that's speaking directly to what we're doing," Dalton said Monday night.

Aldermen Skip Mange and Phil Behnen both expressed concerns about once again continuing the solar panel ordinance prior to the vote.

Behnen suggested that the board is putting to much emphasis on the Clarkson Valley case.

"There comes a time we need to bite the bullet,"  Mange said. He said he's fine with continuing the matter, he just doesn't want it to be forgotten. "This is an important issue that needs to be addressed."

"Once we've learned what we think is going to happen, then I'll be advising you on that," Garrett explained to aldermen.

Alderman Fred Meyland-Smith previously told Patch that the delay on the vote is because the city is trying to research the issue and plan as much as possible before putting any ordinance in place.

Read Related Stories:

Solar Panels: Town and Country Puts Guidelines in Place

Is Town and Country's Solar Panel Plan Too Tough on Homeowners?

Solar Panel Vote Brings Even Bigger Issue Before Town and Country Board of Aldermen

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