Solar Panel Dispute Prevents Homeowner from ‘Going Green’

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  "Going Green" has been a mantra for environmentalists, corporations and government in recent years. But one homeowner in the Northland is encountering resistance to his plans to become more environmentally friendly. Some of his neighbors are preventing him from installing solar panels on the roof of his house.

"There's no good reason right now not to go with solar," said homeowner Rodney Malisos.

But a covenant in the Montclair neighborhood near Liberty specifically prohibits solar collectors, except with the permission of the developer's design review committee.
It's not uncommon for other homes associations to ban what some call the future of electricity.

When Malisos looks at the sun, he sees a free, clean energy source that he wants to uses to power everything in his house on North Crescent Court. And with solar panels becoming a more common sight in many places around the metro area, Malisos says putting them on the back of his roof seemed like a no-brainer.

"I have three daughters that are 4, 6, and 10," Malisos said. "I don't want them or any of us to rely on foreign oil. I think that by having solar panels, it will make the environment cleaner, make us less dependent  on going to other countries."

But the $50,000 investment Malisos wants to make in solar energy for his home has been blocked by his neighborhood's design review committee, which has refused to overrule covenant restrictions on solar collectors. Malisos believes there are plenty of objects already on rooftops just as unsightly as modern-day solar panels.

"It's going to be a few panels on my roof, that are very aesthetically pleasing," Malisos said. "They're not big ugly things up there. They are very small, they fit on the roof."

In an email to Malisos, developer Craig Porter expressed concern about lawsuits over solar panels in other neighborhoods.

"The neighbors are suing each other," Porter wrote. "I don't think any of us want that in Montclair."

The Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association says it has successfully sued cities and homes associations in Missouri.

"Many times when the homes associations or municipalities are challenged. They do lose those lawsuits," said Susan Brown of the trade group. "Very few homeowners go that far."

Brown claims after seeing how slimmed-down modern solar panels have become, some home's associations change their restrictions. Malisos hopes he can still talk to his developer and make him see the light.

In an email to FOX 4 News, developer Craig Porter wrote, "The restrictions for Montclair have been in place since 1999. Mr. Malisos received a title insurance policy that references the CCRs when he bought his home. The other 100+ residents of Montclair purchased their homes with the expectation that the CCRs would be enforced as they are written. The HOA board and the dfesign review committee will continue to enforce the CCRs in order to protect the property values and quality of life for all the residents of Montclair."

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