Flower Mound HOA Tries to Ban Solar Power

Homeowners' association files lawsuit against resident with solar panels

A Flower Mound homeowner’s association filed a lawsuit claiming the solar panels on a resident’s back roof violate neighborhood rules designed to keep up property values.

Some people in the Wellington neighborhood complain the large panels are ugly.

“Absolutely, it’s an eyesore,” said Shelly Leih, who lives directly behind the house.

But the man who installed the solar panels, who agreed to speak only under the condition his name not be used, said solar power is the future.

“I think they’re beautiful as can be,” he said. "They may be ugly to some people, eyesores, but so were satellite dishes and recycle bins. You're going to get used to them."

The homeowner said he now generates more electricity than he uses and expects to start making a profit on the investment in about three years.

He declined to comment specifically on the homeowners’ association lawsuit but said neighborhood managers have no business trying to ban solar power.

“It’s just a flagrant disregard for what residents want,” he said. "You can't fight efficiency and doing the right thing for our country.”

He said he installed the panels after he sought necessary permission from the city and the homeowners' association. The city granted him a building permit. The association did not respond within 30 days, which he said the rules require, and delayed making a decision for months, he said.

The panels are on his back roof, but they are clearly visible from a popular walking trail that runs right behind his house.

"I don't believe that's right to his neighbors,” Leih said. “If he wants to do something like that, I think he should move into a field."

Leih said she does not object to solar power in general or to homeowners putting up a few panels, but that the installation on her neighbor’s roof is excessive.

"This is an HOA, this is a community,” she said. “We don't own our homes to make money off of them. That roof is becoming a moneymaker for him."

The man said he was interested in both making money and clean power.

"I'm interested in it to be green, but also to get rid of our energy bill,” he said. “And to teach our kids about conservation, recycling and everything you can do.”

He also said he plans to plant more trees in his backyard to try to obstruct neighbors’ views.

"I'm a good neighbor," he said. "I want to be a nice person."

Charles Spencer, an attorney for the Wellington Homeowners Association, said Tuesday managers are just doing their jobs by enforcing the rules.

He said one of the restrictions, which applies to all 2,300 members, says: "No projection of any type shall be placed or permitted above the roof of any residential building with the exception of one or more chimneys and one or more vent stacks."

Spencer denied the association missed a 30-day deadline for responding to the request.

"The truth of the matter is they got with him post haste and had hearings," he said. "They asked him for additional information."

Association leaders were angered when the man installed the panels without permission and decided to file the lawsuit, Spencer said.

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