Many people would applaud Glade Bilby for improving his New Orleans home with rooftop solar panels—except, apparently, the city officials who recently slammed the breaks on that progress.
Instead, the Vieux Carre Commission is more concerned with another issue: keeping the historical integrity of his 1834 French Quarter abode intact.
This problem isn’t new and certainly not isolated to this area of the country. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, homeowners everywhere are struggling to balance environmental conscious with preservation of their home’s traditional aesthetics.
Louisiana guidelines on the issue state that solar panels must be low-profile—or more accurately, invisible. Unfortunately, as in Bilby’s case, what one person sees as low-profile, another may not.
Bilby planned to install the panels not on the roof facing the front, but on the back-end that slopes away from the street. There, they would be concealed by surrounding roofs and dormers.
However, with a 5-3 vote, the council members denied the project. Some members worried that pushing it through would have encouraged other residents to seek approval for similar solar installations.
For Bilby and residents of other historical neighborhoods around the country, this issue is far from over. As more people become aware of the benefits of solar, some type of compromise will have to be reached.