Evanston aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to overturn a decision of the Preservation Commission and let homeowners install solar panels that are visible from the street on their house at 1040 Hinman Ave.

Homeowner Peter Laundy said some of the panels need to be visible from the street to provide sufficient solar power capacity to make the project viable.

He added that two other homes in historic districts had similar installations approved by the Preservation Commission last year.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, lives about a block away at 1130 Hinman Ave. She said the city should commend the property owners for seeking the solar installation.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said environmental concerns should be at the forefront of the city’s considerations. He also proposed that the Planning and Development Committee review the city’s regulations for solar panels.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said climate goals need to be balanced with historic preservation interests — and in this case the Preservation Commission didn’t make the right decision.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, also raised concerns about irregularities in how the Commission reached the denial vote. She said one commissioner discussed the issue, made the motion to deny approval for the solar panels, and then abstained from voting.

If they’re going to abstain from the vote, Rainey said, members of boards and commissions also need to abstain from any discussion and state a reason why they’re abstaining.

Related story

Aldermen to decide: Preservation or conservation? (11/1/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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