Engineers working with the Douglas County School District didn’t do their homework when they agreed to add solar power to 30 of the district’s …
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Engineers working with the Douglas County School District didn’t
do their homework when they agreed to add solar power to 30 of the
district’s schools, some Acres Green residents say. Now they say
the district is trying to foist the error on the neighborhood’s
back – a burden Acres Green would shoulder for 25 years.
“We are here because of a mistake,” Acres Green resident Ron Brink
told school board members during their May 3 meeting. “This
proposal has been botched from the beginning.”
Neighbors packed the board’s Castle Rock chambers, with more than a
dozen speaking against plans to build a 100-x-260-foot, 456-panel
solar installation at the corner of Maximus and Acres Green
An August 2010 agreement between the Douglas County School District
and Regeneration Finance calls for building the solar panels at 30
elementary, middle and high schools, as well as Shea Stadium in
Highlands Ranch. Plans showed the panels erected on school roofs
and a carport-like structure at Shea Stadium.
Power generated by the panels will save the district an estimated
$5.5 million by the end of the 25-year agreement. The panels at
Acres Green Elementary will pay a-third of the school’s energy
bills, district officials estimate.
The idea of putting the panels on top of the Acres Green school
crumbled when engineers determined the 36-year-old roof couldn’t
handle the load.
Instead, they proposed a ground-level structure in the middle-class
neighborhood west of Park Meadows Mall. The proposal will be
reviewed by the Douglas County Planning Commission during its
“I am absolutely convinced none of you would allow this to happen
in your community,” Acres Green resident Pat Perlinger said to the
board members. “There is no question the project will be an eyesore
and devalue our homes.”
Several neighbors also said notice about the project came late,
giving them little time to offer input.
“Because we’re a smaller community, I believe our opinions were
overlooked,” one resident said. “If you can’t exclude us from the
project, take some of the projected savings and upgrade the
District spokesman Randy Barber said aborting plans for Acres
Green’s solar project wouldn’t be easy.
“It would be great if we could just send it to another location,”
Barber said. But the Acres Green site is specified in the approved
contract, he said.
If planning commission denies the ground-level panels, “It won’t
botch the entire project, but it certainly will make it more
expensive,” Barber said. “It really causes a number of hiccups that
are going to be very difficult to overcome.”
Upgrading the roof is cost-prohibitive, he said.
Neighbors said their concerns extend beyond aesthetics to safety.
Curious children may climb the planned six-foot fence and suffer
injury or electrocution. At ground level, it’s also a lure for
“The inherent vandalism that will ensue is a promise,” Marva Bigler
Attorney and Acres Green resident Jim Stern suggested legal action
could be taken based on the devaluation of property values,
particularly for homeowners on Virgo Drive whose back yards give
them a birds-eye view of the school.
“I know the homeowners on Virgo Drive would be well within their
rights to sue to stop this thing as an inverse condemnation
action,” Stern said. “They could put the brakes on this thing for a
Because of the neighbors’ comments, Barber said the school district
has added landscaping and tweaked the fence design around the
planned site to improve its appearance.
“Obviously, we care about their concerns,” he said. “We really
think landscaping will improve the project so it’s less noticeable.
This is an important project we’re taking on. The school (district)
is in the middle of a budget deficit. We want to be sure we’re
looking at ways to save money for the district. That’s really the
key element — the ability to save taxpayer money.”
The planning commission’s public hearing on the Acres Green solar
panels was at 7 p.m. May 16 in the commissioners’ hearing room at
100 Third Street in Castle Rock. Go online to www.lonetree247.com for an
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