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Town of Westfield May Begin Regulating Solar Panel Installations

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A new ordinance was introduced at Tuesday’s town council meeting that would regulate the installation of solar energy systems in Westfield. Credits: Jackie Lieberman
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WESTFIELD, NJ — A new ordinance was introduced at Tuesday’s town council meeting that would regulate the installation of solar energy systems.

“The two-fold purpose is to encourage solar energy opportunities while at the same time ensuring that our town character and the character of our neighborhoods is maintained,” Councilman Sam Della Fera, chair of the code review and town property committee, told the council during its conference meeting Tuesday.

“We’ve all seen solar panels popping up around town and we expect to see more renewable energy — in particular solar energy — opportunities arise,” Della Fera said.

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“I think the ordinance itself says it best,” Della Ferra said. “The ordinance reads: ‘The purpose of this is to provide a regulatory framework for the construction and operation of solar energy system in the town of Westfield, subject to reasonable restrictions, which will preserve the public health, safety and welfare, while also maintaining the character of the town of Westfield.’”

One of the provisions in the ordinance would ensure that no solar energy system located on a rooftop would cause that structure to exceed existing height restrictions.

“Similarly, we’ve seen solar farms along highways and places and we want to ensure that those farms don’t start popping up in people’s backyards necessarily, although they can,” Della Fera said. “Again, we’re going to limit the height of those solar panels and apply certain ground-coverage ratios, like we would do any ancillary structure.”

Other regulations would reduce visibility of solar panels by limiting where they could be placed, require panels to be screened or oriented so that glare is directed away from adjoining properties and streets and prohibit advertising on the systems.

The ordinance, no,. 2063, was unanimously approved by the town council upon first reading during the council’s regular meeting later that evening. A public hearing will be held before the council takes a final vote.

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