Paul Peter Nicolai
Town Rules Paved Over For Solar Development
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
A developer’s request to construct a solar energy system was denied because an access road to the facility through Waltham was a commercial use in a residential zone. Because state law protects solar energy systems from local regulation not necessary to protect the public health, safety, or welfare, the denial was overruled. The Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld that decision.
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT…The Supreme Court took a broad view of what was part of a solar energy system, including the road leading to it. It also noted that Waltham's rule was such that 98% of the town would be foreclosed to solar energy systems. Because the state legislature limited what towns could do, that position superseded local regulation. Although this case does not directly deal with affordable housing, the fact is it lays the groundwork for broader state compulsion of affordable housing and other denser developments.