The Village Of Thomaston Discusses Going Green

The Village of Thomaston town hall was held on Zoom at 7:30 p.m. April, 26. (Photo by Julie Prisco)

On Tuesday, April 26, the Village of Thomaston Board of Trustees held a Zoom town hall meeting to discuss the regulation of residential solar panels. Mayor Steve Weinberg, Deputy Mayor Burton Weston, and the entire Board of Trustees were in attendance for the meeting, along with the villages Design Review Board members.
“This is a town hall meeting to hear if you have comments with respect to what parameters should be included in a policy or local law that is addressed to solar panels for residential use,” said Mayor Weinberg. “This way, we can get the community’s input, and the board can consider a draft or design a policy or local law to be proposed to the village.”
Many residents turned into the Zoom meeting to listen to and voice opinions on the guidelines set forth by the Design Review Board for residential solar panels.
Glen Wilson, the Chair of the Design Review Board, and all Design Review Board members created a checklist of items to be reviewed and looked for concerning applications for residential use of solar panels.
The Board of Trustees uploaded the checklist and guidelines presented by the Design Review Board to the Village website for all residents to view, along with other solar codes from surrounding villages.
According to the list of guidelines created by the Design Review Board and Posted on the village website,
• Mounted solar panels and other fixtures should not be visible when standing on any public right-of-way within 200 ft. of the property unless said fixtures do not have a negative visual impact on the neighborhood’s character as determined by the Board of Trustees.
• A property survey no older than 12 months depicts the existing improvements.
• Equipment and mounting manufacturing specifications, including layout of panels. In no event shall visible panels or supports rise greater than six inches above the roofline.
• Accessory boxes shall be located on an interior wall, not visible on the home’s exterior.
• As much as possible, all panels are to appear like and are to match the color of the roof or wall to which they are to be attached.
• The conduit shall be submerged into the soffit and/or below the roof shingles and plywood sheathing to connect panels so they are not visible. Do not lay the conduit on the roof.
• Prepare and submit a glare effects analysis.
• No trees shall be removed to accommodate the installation and collection of any solar panel equipment.
• Proof of written notice to all property owners within a 200 ft. radius of the property.
“All members of the Board of Trustees and Design review board are pro-solar energy,” said Wilson when addressing the guidelines. “There is a necessary and popular movement to move away from fossil fuels, coal and oil towards other sources of energy to which solar energy has a strong presence at the forefront. And with these regulations, we will have conformity and safety.”
After Mayor Weinberg and Wilson went through the guidelines, they opened up the discussion for residents to voice concerns and opinions.
Thomaston resident Ben Pang brought up multiple concerns. “My house roof is facing north and south. It is more efficient to collect energy from the south-facing roof,” said Pang. “I think it is an unreasonable requirement for people like me to not be allowed to install solar panels on a south-facing roof because it is facing the street.”
Pang discussed the glare study, stating that the glare from solar panels is minimal and seems unnecessary. He also mentioned that surveys are costly, and if someone hasn’t made changes to the hope, then a recent survey shouldn’t be required.
Thomaston resident Ethan Li spoke after Pang and brought up many similar concerns. “I ask all of the people on this call to be mindful of what is undisputable and subjective to taste,” said Li. “Something undisputable is anything facing the south is getting the most solar production; that is a fact. Something subjective is how someone sees the look of the panels on someone’s house.”
“There should not be any discrimination if you have a clear view of the sun, but it is facing the street,” Li continued. “If we can paint our house any color, then I should be able to get solar panels. People need to get with the times.”
Resident Nancy Sherman agreed that people shouldn’t be discriminated against on which way their home is facing while making a point to maintain aesthetically pleasing appearances.
“I agree that certain aesthetic requirements should be in place regarding how the panels are visualized in any manner, then it should be the best way that would not be intrusive,” said resident Nancy Sherman.
All residents that spoke up during the meeting agreed with Pang and Li about the street-facing view being unnecessary and unreasonable. They also agreed that there was no issue with requesting residents to hide wires and conduits of the solar panels to maintain aesthetic integrity.
“In an attempt to reduce the impact of the man-made climate crisis, we are facing solar panels are a great start,” said resident Andrew Crsonson. “Being in an area above Manhasset bar and above the sole aquifer, there is great care needed from Thomaston residents to reduce their footprint. However, these approaches are only as good as the practicality for owners to have these measures put in place on their property.”
“I would strongly encourage Thomaston that a practical but meaningful incentive is put in place,” said Cronson. “Perhaps in the form of a tax rebate or expedite for projects with sustainable features to ensure that as many residents as possible have a reason and motivation to participate.”
After hearing from multiple residents voicing their opinions on the guidelines set forth by the Design Review Board, Mayor Weinberg acknowledged that the meeting had given him and the boards a lot to think about and discuss.
“We want a process in place that, while we can’t take into account every possible situation, we do want to take into account most situations and allow everyone flexibility,” said Mayor Weinberg. “The question is whether we should make a local law along with these guidelines and what factors should be in a local law. How much flexibility should be in the local law, what we can do to incentivize and fast track the process.”
It was apparent throughout the meeting how passionate residents and board members are to do their part in helping the environment in any way they can. With the information gathered, Mayor Weinberg, Design Review Board Chair Wilson, and the board members will form a solid draft to promote efficiency and streamline granting residents approval for their solar panel applications.
Visit the Village of Thomaston website at to view the list of guidelines for rsidential solar panel applications.

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