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Environmentalists fight new solar rules

Several environmental activists from the Network for Evanston’s Future persuaded the City Council Monday night to send proposed new solar panel regulations back to committee for further discussion.

The environmentalists, including Andrew Fisher of 1580 Sherman Ave., said the new rules, developed by the Plan Commission, place too much emphasis on shielding the panels from view, at the expense of their effectiveness.

Barbara Wallace of 1203 Maple Ave. said the over-emphasis on aesthetic considerations in the ordinance could effectively stop people from putting solar panels on their homes and that would run counter to Evanston’s strategic plan goal of becoming a “green” city.

Some of the restrictive provisions of the proposed rules were first reported by Evanston Now nearly four months ago.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, suggested that the complaints about the new ordinance were based on misinformation but suggested deferring action on the rules to get more information from city staff.

But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said when she sees solar panels on a house her reaction isn’t that they’re ugly, but what a fine statement they make about the owner’s environmental consciousness. These rules “don’t feel good to me,” she said.

Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, said more input from the city’s environmental board and enery board is needed and that it “seems inappropriate for the Plan Commission to be determining the extent and nature” of the solar panels.

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