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Rules are changing on solar panels

When the city of Rosemount first wrote an ordinance to govern the installation of satellite dishes and solar panels, the technology for both was a whole lot different than it is today. Satellite dishes were yard-dominating pieces of equipment, not the modest gray discs stuck on roofs today. And solar panels were less effective and less popular.

Now that things are changing, the city is updating the rules that dictate how dishes and solar panels can be used. The Rosemount Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at its July 23 meeting to allow residents to have input on those changes.

The changes related to satellite dishes are straightforward. The city has removed altogether language relating to the devices because there are federal rules that govern their use.

The language related to solar panels has been adjusted to consider new technology as well as new rules put in place during the last session of the Minnesota Legislature. Those rules allow community solar farms on which one person installs several solar panels then either sells or leases the panels to other individuals.

"We're anticipating that," city planner Jason Lindahl said. "We're just trying to make sure that the city standards - that we're addressing them from a technological standpoint."

Lindahl said the city has also talked about ordinances governing the use of thermal heating systems and wind turbines, but chose to start with solar panels.

The new ordinance will not be a dramatic change from what is currently in place.

"It's more updating it than really substantial new changes," Lindahl said. "The past ordinance just basically talked about, (solar panels) are allowed. This ordinance differentiates between solar panels on rooftops and what they call ground mounted.... It talks about standards for screening and glare to make sure there aren't impacts on neighbors."

The July 23 planning commission meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606