Board left confused after solar panel proposal
By Courtney Parker
STAFF WRITER | April 20,2013
Plenty was left to the imagination as the Rutland Town Planning Commission reviewed resident Leonard Knappmiller’s solar panel proposal.
The proposal for the installation of a photovoltaic system consisting of 561 solar panels in the backyard of a residential area was discussed by the board at a meeting Thursday night but was found to be fairly vague and unclear.
Much larger than anything the town has seen before in the area, Knappmiller’s installation would take place on his approximately 2.9 acres of open land on West Proctor Road.
The Rutland Town Planning Commission, as well as neighbors and other involved parties, received the proposal earlier this week, which included the Vermont Public Service Board application and a paragraph narrative of the project.
With such little information, neighbors were left with several concerns, including Linda and Chris Johnson, who were present at Thursday night’s meeting.
After initially receiving their hand-delivered copy of the proposal from Knappmiller, no significant complaints arose due to their unfamiliarity with this type of installation, the couple said. But upon further investigation and research, the Johnsons learned of the full extent of the project, which brought up some major concerns for the family.
“For the rest of my life I am going to have 561 blue panels facing me,” said Chris Johnson, explaining the solar panels would be in his direct view from his deck and bedroom window.
The Johnsons argued that the view will disrupt the natural beauty of the area and since Knappmiller does not live at the residence he would not be affected by the change as they would.
“It’s not going to bother him,” said Linda Johnson after the meeting. “He won’t have to look at it.”
The board took these arguments into consideration along with expressing some concerns of their own.
Visibility from the road, possible interference with a historical site, and potential fire hazards were just some of the board’s main concerns they hope to address.
More information, as well as a visual layout of the project, was requested. “We’re not against it or for it,” said Chairman Bill Matteson. “We don’t know what it is.”
The board agreed the vagueness of the project left many unclear of what is actually being proposed, making it difficult to come up with a decision.
Ultimately the board made a unanimous decision to send a letter to the Vermont Public Service Board voicing their concerns and addressing the vagueness of the proposal along with a request for a hearing for further discussion and clarification on the project.
“We don’t know enough information to comment on it,” said Matteson after the meeting. “We need more.”
Knappmiller was not present at the meeting and declined to comment at this time.