Solar Panels“Let the sun shine,” may have been the tune being hummed by homeowners while first installing a photovoltaic solar array system on various roofs and grounds of their property located within a subdivision.

But, the Missouri Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the decision of the Twelve Oaks Homes Association’s Design Review Committee (DRC) disapproving part of the solar structure. That decision was reasonable and consistent with the DRC’s role to preserve the beauty and utility of a pleasant residential environment, to enhance the value of the property within the subdivision, and to maintain the harmonious nature of the structures in the subdivision.

Cue the song, “Ain’t No Sunshine” based upon the evidence that neighbors in the subdivision voiced objections about the aesthetics of the solar panels, along with complaints of on-going glare from the panels and concern that the panels could potentially lower the property values of adjacent homeowners.

Importantly, the court noted that while the law favors the free and untrammeled use of real property, valid restrictive covenants cannot be disregarded.   The Court wrote:

“Subdivision building restrictions adopted for the purposes of preserving beauty and utility and enhancing the value of residential property are valid, and injunction is the proper remedy for their violation.   Likewise, covenants requiring prior approval or consent to the erection of structures and allowing disapproval if structure is not in harmony with general surroundings of the subdivision are valid if reasonably exercised.”

Finally, the Court of Appeals found that the homeowners association was entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees relating to its action to enjoin a violation of the restrictive covenants.