Roeland Park looking to reduce hurdles to incorporating solar panels on homes

Roeland Park is looking to remove procedural steps currently required to get approval to install rooftop solar panels on homes. Photo credit Jon Callas.

Roeland Park residents wanting to incorporate solar panels into their homes may find the process easier in the future. Councilmembers signaled support during a recent workshop for removing a restriction that requires residents to gain approval from city council prior to installing all solar panel systems.

The updated ordinance would only require solar panel projects that fall outside of regular usage parameters to gain council approval. Otherwise residents could gain approval by Roeland Park’s building official John Jacobson.

Mayor Mike Kelly signaled his support for the streamlined approval process.

“If we can keep the bureaucracy out of this and encourage people to gain some energy independence and lessen reliance on fossil fuels then I think it’s a good move for the city,” Kelly said.

Councilmember Jim Kelly said he had concerns the updated language was too subjective and said he would like to see something “more definitive.” Councilor Erin Thompson agreed that some language seemed vague and subject to interpretation.

Councilmember Tim Janssen asked if a recent solar project which positioned panels vertically on the side of a Roeland Park home would fall outside of what Jacobson considered regular solar panel usage. Jacobson said that particular project was an example of a system that would fall outside regular usage and require council approval.

Councilors signaled a consensus supporting the language and the updated ordinance will be placed on the agenda at an upcoming council meeting.

Last November the council approved two solar panel projects on the 48th Street block of Neosho and on the 49th Street block of Wells. The council’s approval occurred after the systems were already installed as residents did not realize the city’s ordinance required solar projects to gain council approval. During the 2017 discussion councilmember Teresa Kelly suggested the city remove the requirement for council approval of all solar panel projects.