Belleville HOA continues fighting solar panels despite new Illinois law

FOX Files

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – A Belleville family thought they’d won their fight to keep their solar panels. Their homeowner’s association ordered them removed, but then a new Illinois law offered them more protection. It hasn’t stopped the HOA, however, from going after the homeowners.

The Basslers live in a homeowner’s association in Belleville called The Orchards. Their HOA rules say solar panels are permissible in the back of their home, facing the golf course, but not ok in the front, facing the street.

Jennifer Bassler told us last month, she thought her family was protected by a state law that says an HOA cannot prohibit the panels.

“I know it’s something a lot of people in just this neighborhood are interested in,” she said.

Neighbor Frank Wallace agreed, saying, “I’ve spoken to many, many people who live here and we’re not against solar.”

Illinois State Rep Dan Didech saw our July Fox Files report and said, “Unfortunately, it was a familiar story because I’ve heard from other families in Illinois who wanted to install solar panels on their property, but faced unreasonable resistance from homeowner’s associations. That’s why I introduced House Bill 644.”

It was signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker last week. The law is effective immediately and it strengthens a homeowner’s rights to have solar panels, over objections of their HOA.

Didech added, “We want people like the Basslers to feel welcome in Illinois. We want more people to follow in their footsteps and help us get even more solar energy in Illinois.”

Yet the Orchards HOA has not backed down, continuing to sue the Basslers to remove the front roof solar panels.

EFS Energy’s Paul McKnight installed the solar panels.

“There was a very similar fight with satellite dishes and things like that and eventually, you know, laws were passed that allowed people to put satellite dishes and things like that on their roofs because they wanted them and it’s the same thing with solar panels now,” he said. “They’re not the big, crazy things sticking up from the roof. They’re flush to the roof; we hide all the conduit.”

The homeowner’s association refused to discuss this with FOX 2, relying solely on its court filings. The HOA insists the front roof solar panels must come down. Both sides return to a St. Clair County courtroom at the end of this month.

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