I always find amusing the rules that some of my friends around the country must abide by when living in community housing developments. Your grass can only be so high, children’s toys must be kept to a minimum outside, your house can only be certain shades of color, etc. etc. It’s a frightening utopia of meaningless laws and trivial worry. When I heard that the town of Scarsdale denied a family the opportunity to put up solar panels — on the basis that they were ugly and “not in keeping with the character of the community” — I immediately wanted to cry/laugh. You have got to be kidding me.
But then I thought that such reactions are probably not too uncommon. We live in a world with designer water, designer shampoo, and animal spas. People have become so accustomed to modular cookie-cutter homes with white picket-fences and weed-free sidewalks — that they’ve actually forgotten there’s a world of people out there who could care less and actually would like to live a unique existence; with character and vision for their own lives. So, when you move to a place like Scarsdale, and they deny you the ability to lead that existence based on the above criteria, what do you do? You call their bullshit and fight back. From the article,
“So the Saracheks fought back. They called their local representatives, submitted a petition with more than 100 residents’ signatures, and spent an estimated $20,000 in delayed construction costs and legal fees to appeal the BAR’s decision.
The result: The historically conservative BAR (Board of Architectural Review) broke tradition and narrowly approved the Saracheks’ application 4-3 last month. The Saracheks became the first homeowners in Scarsdale to gain approval for solar panels.
‘We were just shocked that there were so many objections from so many educated people,’ Heather Sarachek, 43, said.”
No kidding. But wait, it gets better:
“‘The height of the structure was objectionable, not the solar panels themselves,’ said Cukras. He said he can see the panels from his home, which is adjacent to the Saracheks’. ‘It’s a neighborhood issue. … It’s not that we are opposed to solar energy. It’s the impact the panels have on the whole community.’”
Impact? What’s going to happen? Are people going to run screaming through the streets because they’re confused as to what exactly is on the neighbor’s roof? Will children need therapy? I honestly cannot see this impacting home prices. “Well, Jim, we’d really love to buy this home, but I can see some solar panels over there on that roof; and frankly, I just can’t stand for that type of imagery.”
With more talk than ever about renewable energy, let’s not forget that we’re only at the base of the mountain on this topic. There are still plenty of avalanches of idiocy and red tape to come.