Merriam streamlines solar installation permit process for residents

The amendments to Merriam's solar installation ordinance remove planning commission review and conditional use permit requirements, making solar more accessible to residents. File photo.

Merriam residents wanting to add solar installations to their homes will no longer have to go before the planning commission.

Three months after the initial discussion, the Merriam City Council last week approved amendments to its solar installation ordinance. The amendments streamline the solar panel collection systems permitting process, meaning residents have more opportunities to take advantage of solar energy.

Councilmember Whitney Yadrich, a key player in getting the solar installation ordinance reviewed and ultimately approved, told the Shawnee Mission Post the city is “actively creating equity opportunities” for residents — and she’s ready to see where the city goes next.

“The message is, ‘we want to make this easier for you, and we want it to cost less,’” Yadrich said. “It’s a testament to the city’s mission statement by reducing government obstacles and focusing on progress. I hope leaders at the county and state levels follow suit.”

Below are the specific adjustments to the ordinance, as outlined in city documents:

  • Removal of the conditional use permit requirement
  • Removal planning commission review requirements
  • Elimination of abandonment and disrepair provisions
  • Allows solar panels to face the right-of-way

Background: Merriam first discussed streamlining its solar installation ordinance on June 8 and the planning commission was charged with reviewing the ordinance. The city council made suggestions during its Aug. 5 meeting and the planning commission agreed with the proposed changes.

Following a public hearing in which no comments were made, the planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the draft ordinance on Sept. 2.

Big picture: The efforts around the solar installation ordinance address a city council objective to encourage residents to participate in sustainability initiatives. Additionally, the solar collection systems mentioned in the ordinance would be covered by the sustainability grant the city is offering in 2021.

The sustainability grant would provide a 20% reimbursement for residents installing energy saving systems, including solar panels. The minimum reimbursement is $500 and the maximum is $2,500.