Friday, July 13, 2007

Historic Preservation v. Environment
People living in historic districts who want to add solar panels or energy-efficient windows are bumping up against aesthetic restrictions designed to preserve the architectural integrity of the their houses, according to a July 12 article in the Wall Street Journal. "Renewable energy and aesthetics don't have to be mutually exclusive," says Frank Rathbun, of the Community Associations Institute. "But agreeing to projects without regard to the architectural guidelines of the community can create divisiveness and can affect property values." Recent examples of the competing values include Al Gore's attempt to add solar panels and geothermal heating to his Nashville home and neighbors fighting over a wind turbine in upstate New York. Nationwide, there are 412,900 "locally designated historic properties." The issue also plays itself out in condo, co-op and homeowner associations, which often regulate changes to the exteriors of buildings.

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