ShareThis Page

Sewickley solar-panel neighbor continues to question installation

Bobby Cherry
| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The brouhaha over solar panels on a home in a historic Sewickley neighborhood continues as Henry Avenue neighbors question the borough's guidelines for the power source.

Henry Avenue resident Christy Semple questioned the approval process and installation of solar panels on the roof of a home owned by Dorothy and Andrew Falk — who live two homes away from Semple. Several people were on hand last week at a council meeting to support Semple.

The Falks installed solar panels last month after receiving approval from the borough's historic review commission and council.

Semple said the borough's current procedure offered no notice to nearby residents.

“The review process is so abbreviated,” she said, adding that nearby neighbors had to go through a lengthy evaluation for projects on their homes. Properties within historic neighborhoods in Sewickley have more stringent policies than nonhistoric areas.

“Why was this not tabled to look at actual drawings and panels?”

Now, she and other neighbors have an unpleasant view, Semple said.

“This is a view we see all day, every day from our home,” she said. “We see it out our ... windows. We see from where we sit at our dining room table.”

Council President Bob Hague said the development of guidelines wouldn't have affected this application because the Falks' request was made before policy changes were considered.

Hague said he supports the addition of solar panels, but suggested policies would be needed to govern such additions.

But he cautioned against making rules too strict.

“What you end up running into is competing rights of homeowners,” he said.

Solar panels face an alleyway and neighboring homes. Some panels could have been visible from Little Street, but were relocated, Dorothy Falk said.

“We're doing good things for the environment, so it's a surprise there would be any objection to it,” she said.

The Falks' home was built in the late 1800s, Dorothy Falk said.

Andrew Falk said the addition of solar panels is an “investment to improve the value of our house and to lower our electric bill.”

They say the panels create about 80 percent of what they consume, with additional power going back into the grid.

Manager Kevin Flannery said borough workers will re-examine the installation, making sure details of the contract were followed.

Council member Charlie Driscoll, who serves on the historic review commission, said the group has discussed solar panels and how they might be governed in the future. He added that the homeowners could have added more.

“The homeowner was fairly reasonable in not doing more,” he said.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.