TAKOMA PARK, MD – Members of Historic Takoma discovered a loophole that would ultimately help them win their fight against solar panel installation in the historic district: reclassifying the area as an agricultural reserve.
“After the Montgomery County Council voted against the installation of solar panels in the Up County Ag Reserve, we knew what we had to do,” said Pierce Lawrence of Historic Takoma. “If you think about, the Takoma Park Historic District is much like an agricultural reserve in that many residents grow their own vegetables, raise chickens, and fight against any kind of development near them.”
The issue of solar panels in historic districts has been a topic of debate for years, as climate change and rising energy costs have become top concerns for residents. In 2019, DC’s historic commission approved solar arrays on front elevations, which then sparked Montgomery County to follow suit the following year. While most residents approved of solar panels on historic houses, some were still skeptical.
“We recognize we are facing a climate emergency and understand that we do not have the luxury of time on our side to save the planet,” said Lawrence. “But we also need to take a step back, slow things down, and really consider how saving the world impacts the aesthetics of how a roof looks from the street.”
Solar panels are just the latest issue where Historic Takoma has been accused of obstructing progressive land use policy, but its leaders disagree with the criticism. “It’s unfair to think a historic society can’t also hold forward-thinking views,” said Lawrence. “We fully support efforts to address climate change, build affordable housing and end systemic racism. We just want the County do those things a few streets over from our million dollar single-family homes. Is that too much to ask?”