Disputed solar panels removed from Ballston yard
BALLSTON A Ballston couple who aimed to nearly eliminate electric bills by using solar panels has taken them down after fighting a lawsuit for more than a year.
Brian and Christa Haines had the pole-mounted panels removed earlier this week, more than three weeks after a state appeals court ruled neighbors could move ahead with a lawsuit against them. On Wednesday morning, the metal structures that held the panels lay on the grass at the Haineses’ home at 44 Long Creek Drive.
The resolution was satisfactory to Gary Faler, the first homeowner listed on the lawsuit he and 29 other owners filed in March 2012, claiming the panels violated deed restrictions in the upscale Seelye Estates West housing development.
“They proposed a settlement, and they agreed to take them down,” Faler said Wednesday.
After hearing last week that the couple would remove the panels, he dropped his portion of the lawsuit.
Neighbors protested the six 14-foot-high panels shortly after they were erected in October 2011, then filed the lawsuit in the state Supreme Court in Saratoga County, saying the panels were unsightly, cast shadows on a neighboring yard and caused sun glare that could temporarily blind motorists and create a safety hazard. They also argued the panels violated the development’s deed restrictions, which ban storage buildings, propane tanks, garbage cans, automobile equipment and the like.
The Haineses asked Judge Stephen A. Ferradino to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the deed restrictions didn’t specify that solar panels weren’t allowed. Ferradino agreed, and in June ruled in favor of the Haineses.
On March 28, however, the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, overturned Ferradino’s dismissal, saying the neighbors’ lawsuit was valid and could proceed.
Faler said he opposed the panels because they clashed with the look of the neighborhood, and he filed the lawsuit to enforce the deed restrictions.
“It was never about solar power or anything else,” he said. “It’s galvanized metal. Galvanized metal does not belong in the neighborhood.”
Faler had put his house up for sale right before the Haineses installed the solar panels.
“I had an appraisal done on the house,” Faler said, and after the solar panels were installed, his real estate professionals said he needed to drop the asking price by 10 percent.
He has since sold the house and moved out of the area.
Reached at his home Wednesday, Brian Haines said his lawyer had advised him not to talk to the press. Lawyers for the Haineses and the neighbors could not be reached.
The neighboring homeowners who filed the lawsuit are Gary and Josephine Faler, Robert and Christine Marro, John and Rita James, Richard and Lorraine DePuy, John Kempf, Kevin and Nancy Radigan, Kevin and Ellen Boyle, John and Holly Rogers, Susan Sweeney, Michael and Julie Prezioso, James and Lisa Doan, Ivan Darryl and Annette Botsford, Daniel and Carolyn Walsh, David Albright, Richard and Lori Litwa, Marc Stofle, and Richard and Jessica Rzeszotarski.