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HLC holds discussion about solar power, guidelines

By Staff | Nov 18, 2011

The Shepherdstown Historic Landmarks Commission did not have its regular meeting Monday due to lack of quorum, but it did still hold an informal discussion with those in attendance who wanted to talk about solar power in the historic district.

Last month, the HLC recommended to the town planning commission that Washington Street resident Joe Yates’ application be denied because he wanted to place panels on his street-facing roof.

The commission’s guidelines state that “(s)olar collectors should be located on rear sections of the roof of a building … or in other areas not readily visible to the public.”

Though the two commissioners present at Monday’s informal gathering could not take any action, Jay Hurley and Donna Northouse still heard the public’s concern over the current wording of the guidelines.

Sustainable Shepherdstown member Than Hitt, who had an application approved in April to place photovoltaics on his garage, advised the commissioners that rewording their guidelines must accomodate the progressive energy needs as well as preservation in the historic district.

“The resason this is a touchy issue is because … you want to have some approaches to solar energy enabling it to go forward while trying to maximize historic preservation. That’s the trick,” he said.

Michelle Liefke, who works for Mountain View Solar in Berkeley Springs, also mentioned other historic towns that the commission can look to for guidance – such as Harpers Ferry or Ann Arbor, Mich.

“In the end, that’s what it comes down to,” said Shepherd Ogden, Bakerton resident and Jefferson County agricultural development officer. “You’ll want to see how other areas have done this in the most reasonable fashion.”

Hurley told attendees that solving this problem should be “simple enough,” and the issue will appear on the commission’s December agenda.

“I don’t have a problem with seen solar panels on historic houses,” Hurley said. “We have electric lights on historic houses … I think we have to embrace it in the best possible way.”

Also at Monday’s informal gathering, Shepherd University officials briefed Hurley and Northouse on the 480 underpass that will begin construction early next year. Shelli Dronsfield, of President Suzanne Shipley’s office, said that the underpass will be complete by the time students come back to school in the fall of 2012.