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Owner of solar-powered home fights neighbor's trees, gains little ground - "Right to sunlight"
Tampa Bay - St. Petersburg Times ^ | May 20, 2012 | Will Hobson

Posted on 05/20/2012 7:21:57 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

LARGO — Last summer, Mike Zwalley put a $65,000 solar energy system on his roof. The system — a 30-gallon solar water heater and 44 black panels that convert sunlight into electricity — cut Zwalley's electric bill from $300 to $400 per month to $10 to $20.

About two months after Zwalley installed the system at his waterfront home off Indian Rocks Road, his next-door neighbor planted three cypress trees, each about 10 feet tall, along his property line.

Zwalley, a 58-year-old car salesman, was not happy. He had asked the neighbor, Wade Gibson, not to plant the trees there.

Zwalley found several websites that estimated the trees would grow to between 70 and 100 feet. At that height, they could cast shade on Zwalley's solar panels.

Gibson told Zwalley that he did not think the trees would get that big, but if they did, Gibson would take care of it, according to Zwalley.

That answer wasn't good enough for Zwalley. He called city management. He called state legislators. He called legal experts. They all gave him different forms of the same answer: In Florida, the law is not on your side.

It would be in a few other states, though.

As energy costs continue to rise, legal experts say courts should expect more battles over solar panels and a property owner's rights, or lack thereof, to sunlight.

"We're going to see more and more, and if it's on your rooftop or in your back yard, you're going to be concerned about your neighbor growing trees," said Scott Anders, director of the Energy Policy Initiatives Center in San Diego. "And growing trees is a good thing, right?"

If Zwalley lived in any of the following places,...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: environment; green; lawyers; regulations; sucker
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To: TheZMan
How the hell does a 58 year old CAR SALESMAN afford a $300 to $400 electric bill, not to mention a $65,000 solar system.
I've rented condos in Indian Rocks Beach, a few blocks from where this guy lives.
The first question I thought of was how does a car salesman afford to live there AND a $65K solar system?
81 posted on 05/20/2012 9:02:49 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Calvin Locke

Salt the ground. Done.

82 posted on 05/20/2012 9:02:53 AM PDT by pingman (Durn tootin'; I like Glock shootin'!)
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To: unixfox

Or people who move close to a gun range, and then complain. Or people who move into a neighborhood with NO covenants, and start complaining about the color of your house, or cars parked in the driveway and not in the garage....and on and on and on....

83 posted on 05/20/2012 9:09:37 AM PDT by Mama Shawna
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To: Grampa Dave

I am on the verge of having some of my second growth Redwood trees topped as they are now blocking the morning sunlight to my garden. I call the trees agressive weeds as they re-sprout from the logged stumps by the dozens..

84 posted on 05/20/2012 9:10:48 AM PDT by tubebender
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Take a look at the direction of his shadow on the roof.
An overreaction appears too have taken place.
85 posted on 05/20/2012 9:13:15 AM PDT by moose07 (The truth will out, one day.)
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You don't like your neighbor planting tree's on his property? Simple solution..... MOVE!

Anyone buying his house is not going to value that solar system an extra $65,000. If he wants to move sometime in the next 15 years he will take a bath.

It's hard to predict the future. Justifying the cost of putting in a heat pump has the same problem. A home buyer won't value it enough to make it worth it.

86 posted on 05/20/2012 9:18:13 AM PDT by Reeses
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To: Gaffer; SunTzuWu

You don’t think a car salesman paid $65K for those panels, do you? Guaranteed he got money from the govt. to help pay for them.

87 posted on 05/20/2012 9:23:19 AM PDT by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: exDemMom
"It’s ridiculous to be paying $300 to $400 per month for electricity... "

Welcome to the real world of living in the South. In Houston I've been paying over $300/mo. for a couple of decades during the summer months--which run from mid-April-October.
88 posted on 05/20/2012 9:24:06 AM PDT by Sudetenland (Anybody but Obama!!!!)
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To: raybbr

You’re probably right. Let’s hope all this attention makes its way to an IRS scoundrel who got screwed by a car salesman and decides to check into this dweeb’s ‘efficient energy credits’ on his last income return.

89 posted on 05/20/2012 9:28:15 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
From down in the article . . .

"Florida courts have been reluctant to rule against property owners exercising legal rights on their property, according to Stetson law professor Paul Boudreaux."

!!! REALLY? I'm shocked! What a novel concept, doing something legal on your own property . . . my, my.

90 posted on 05/20/2012 9:28:35 AM PDT by Sudetenland (Anybody but Obama!!!!)
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To: EEGator

The typical pv solar panel has a life of 20-25 years I believe. A few short years after he breaks even he’ll have to start doing some replacing.

91 posted on 05/20/2012 9:29:57 AM PDT by NewHampshireDuo
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To: NewHampshireDuo

He bought them from Solyndra ..

92 posted on 05/20/2012 9:35:37 AM PDT by Col Frank Slade
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Some properties have codicils which supposedly stop neighbors from having things placed on their property that other home owners think are ugly.

Some of the things they do not allow are flag poles flying American flags.

When I think a Homeowners association would allow this ugly crap on someones roof and not let them fly a flag I get pissed.

93 posted on 05/20/2012 9:36:14 AM PDT by Venturer
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To: BookaT

Most “grid tie” PV systems do not have anyway to store energy when the power goes off. Meaning no batteries. The grid and the inverter are synchronised to each other. If the grid goes out, most of these folks who use smart meters are dead in the water also. The utilities don’t want you to export power to their dead power lines.
I know there are many that have batteries as back up for such events, but they are not usually hooked into the grid tie.
If I were to add batteries to my grid tie PV system, I would be forced to disconnect my system.

94 posted on 05/20/2012 9:42:57 AM PDT by BigpapaBo (If it don't kill you it'll make you _________!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Wow! The things you can learn on the Internet. Like the numerous types-species of "Cypress Trees" there are.

Basically, Solar Panel Guy, Mike Zwalley, is shooting his wad a bit too soon. He should have first nicely asked his SHADE LOVING neighbor, Wade Gibson, what species he planted before flying off with; "I WANT A LAW DAMMIT, OR ELSE!" To wit: his Shade Loving neighbor, Wade Gibson, is likely telling the truth and the trees won't grow to any problematic height. Although ... one species can grow to be 220 ft tall (LOL), now that'd be a problem. (snicker)

But 'series', since Mr Gibson is an Architectural Project Manger and deals with TREES and LOCATIONS (aka: Architectural Landscaping) on every project he's involved with I think he knows what he's doing and saying. He also knows the Building Codes and any Laws-regulations pertaining to Architecture and Landscaping in his area of FL -- and he knows them by heart.

Especially considering Mr Gibson's age, professional experience. and that he ain't a smart-a$$, wet-nosed kid with a shiny new Project Management Degree trying to 'make his bones' by being a pr*ck (I detest those little brats (1)).

So Mr Zwalley should chill out, sit back, and enjoy his $20 electric bill and stop being a jackass. Though being a USED CAR SALESMAN that may be a little tough. /s

(1) I've been in Commercial Construction for 42+ years now (dam I'm gettin old).

95 posted on 05/20/2012 9:44:08 AM PDT by Condor51 (Yo Hoffa, so you want to 'take out conservatives'. Well okay Jr - I'm your Huckleberry)
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To: mountn man
Nah... I bet with Federal and FL tax credits, and power company rebates, he got back way over 50% by the time his next tax forms were filled out...:^)

Old data, but shows what was around for FL -

96 posted on 05/20/2012 9:44:40 AM PDT by az_gila
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To: MtBaldy
small claims court

Depending on the number, age, nature, etc., of the trees, I seriously doubt small claims court would be the venue.

However, I'm sure the guilty HO's property insurance won't be too happy.

Besides, if the abutting neighbor lies about an unmarked (save for the trees) property line, who's to say before the damage has been done?

While I generally wouldn't "damage" others property, I'd get a cash only, illegal alien gypsy service to do the work.

I once had a fight with the town over "their" tree rubbing against my house. I had to trim the offending branch myself. Morons.

Even the power company fought with them. They ended up "splinting" the sections of power lines that were subject to rubbing against the trees.

97 posted on 05/20/2012 9:45:37 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: pingman; MtBaldy; mountn man
Here's a link to a story, and even mentions solar power as another battleground.

I think the one I remembered was in the WSJ 20 years earlier.

98 posted on 05/20/2012 9:53:27 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Gay car salesman should move to Oregon.

99 posted on 05/20/2012 10:04:26 AM PDT by steve8714 (Who didn't already know Obama was our first gay President?)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Maybe if the car salesman had more shade trees he wouldn’t need all that electricity to run his air conditioner.

100 posted on 05/20/2012 10:25:06 AM PDT by layman (Card Carrying Infidel)
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