diy solar

diy solar

Ground mount panels and property setback


Solar Enthusiast
May 29, 2022
NE Ohio
Ground mount PV array in a field next to another farmers field out in the country fyi.....
So today my installers installed the vertical posts for my ground mount. After they were set, my neighbor (who owns the adjacent field) came over bitchin about setback from his property line. He claims that the mounting system is a structure, as as such the regulation is all structures must sit back 25' from the property line (they are setback 15' now). I didn't think a ground mount was considered a structure - like a building. Now he wants me to move them all which is going to be a pain and a bunch of $$$$$. The only good thing is that the panels are not yet mounted.
Does this sound reasonable ???
I don’t know the law but it sounds like he either has something against you or solar. Personally I would not want mine close to a neighbor. I worry about stray bullets. You would have to worry about stray rocks from bush hogging and the like.
Does this sound reasonable ???
It does. My 2 cents.... Most of the setbacks I've ran into are 10' to 15' but to be fair I've not ran into that many. Is 25' your local code?

Your installer is completely responsible for following all codes and applying for permits. Sounds like they blew it.
Tell him where to stick the set back.. tell him if he don't like it call the county. We had a 35' set back from the front here in the city though. You couldn't even have a trailer or truck sitting within that area either.. even with no HOA.
I'm in the city and the set-back is 4ft for sheds, so I did 6ft for my ground array - e.g. edge of panel is >= 6ft from fence.
However, there is value in getting along with neighbors.... and so I only have a 17deg slant (to keep the array lower) instead of 25deg or 30deg for the sake of not interfering with neighbors views.
You have to look at the specific code in your location as to what the set back is for solar specifically. Not all codes have the same setbacks for all types of "things". Solar typically does have its own category.
It is not up to their interpertation. The code is the rule. They can't force you to do something not in the code.
Have you looked at how municipal code is written?
It usually defines who gets the final say on interpretation. It is never the property owner.
Now, you could go fight them in court, but it is an up hill battle. For the original poster's case, the interpretation of what a 'structure' is will not be up to him or his neighbor, it will be up to the code enforcement office.
It is not up to their interpertation. The code is the rule. They can't force you to do something not in the code.
HAHA you have not dealt with a jobs worth have you.
They can't force you to do anything, but they do have the power to not sign the over.
To be honest not knowing what country you are from much less state or county, you'll get a far more accurate answer if you head down to your local saloon and ask the bartender and his/her patrons your question.

To get the correct answer call your local building dept.
I love it when neighbors tell me what I can do...
Be friendly.
Have permits.
Get inspections and site surveys...
Ask if the install bothers him for a particular reason. Be compliant.
My favorite is when renters come in my yard when I'm sitting a fence or surveying the property, and tell me I'm wrong and they know it because they used to own property...

Talking to the current owner of the property being a renter.

I had one such neighbor insist on a copy of the survey report... I politely explained the survey was costing me 750, and if he wanted a report, he can pay for it...
He went away.
In practical terms setting a bunch of glass objects right next to a neighbor with a perfect excuse (field=tractor=bush hog=prove the origin of this rock LOL) and then irritating him, is a really bad idea and in all likelihood the law will not help you deal with him until the situation has escalated to a very unpleasant level.

So I would verify the law, communicate it to him as level-headedly as possible if he asks, AND if your array is not going very high up off the ground, i'd consider upgrading the adjacent fence or building a standalone privacy fence between the array and the actual property line fence, just to catch 'whoops' objects which may fly towards your thousands and thousands of dollars of glass.
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Where I live I would have to get a permit to do a ground mount. You would supply a site plan showing the property lines, existing structures(including underground like septic) and PV ground mount. The zoning officer would sign off on it. The zoning officer is one of the first steps in the process.
Did the contractor or you do these steps to get permits?
Structure == something that can’t easily be moved.

Maybe build a shed (easily moved, no foundations) and mount the PV system to the shed ?
My town
Anything that sits on or is attached to the earth.

They have gone overboard, I'm thinking of challenging just for fun.