Clarkson Valley Aldermen Table Solar Panel Dispute

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Tuesday was a frustrating night for a West County couple trying to win approval to install solar panels on their property.  They`ve hit another snag.  But Jim and Frances Babbs say they are not giving up.

Clarkson Valley`s planning and zoning commission gave the Babbs` proposal the go ahead last week.  Aldermen were expected to vote on the plan Tuesday.  After more than an hour of discussion, they tabled the issue.

The Babbs live deep inside Kehrs Mill Estates, off Kehrs Mill Road.   They are asking for a permit to install 100 solar panels on their property:  52 on their roof and 48 on the ground.

At Tuesday evening`s public hearing, some neighbors cited existing Clarkson Valley ordinances, which govern where playground equipment can be located and where trashcans can be kept.  They said if their community has strict rules about appearance, they question how a 'solar power plant' can be approved.

Jim Babbs said he thinks neighbors are worrying about how it will look instead of considering the benefit.  "It`s for the good of society," he said.  "We must save the environment.  Reduce pollution.  Coal fired power plants produce pollution; any kilowatts I can generate, that`s energy that`s not being generated by other power plants."

The Babbs are ready to invest about $70 thousand in this project.  Ameren will give them a $50 thousand dollar rebate and there`s also a large federal tax credit. Jim Babbs says he is hoping this investment will pay for itself within the first year, if he gets a chance to do it.

The issue will likely come up again in March.