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  • Writer's pictureACK Smart Contributor

A Historic Conversation: The HDC and Solar Regulations

When it comes to Nantucket, we live in the midst of an ongoing battle between preservation of our historic past and planning for our hopeful future.

If you've spent time on the island, you know it's as unique a landscape as you'll find. From our grey shingled houses and bumpy cobblestones streets to our lack of For Sale signs and commercial/chain business, Nantucket can often feel like a trip back in time to sweeter days of the past; ones of simplicity and a lifestyle pace slower than is standard now.

If you've lived on island for a period of time, you know that quintessential charm is a bit of a facade when considering the growing concerns about the island's longevity. The looming anxieties of needing a third energy cable from the cape and the shoreline that we are watching disappear as years go by are a sharp reminder that the way we live today directly impacts our future.

All of these things combined have created the motivating forces behind ACK Smart Energy and the initiatives that drive our work, like conversion to alternative energy sources. Especially considering that so many of the properties we work on are some of the largest estates and compounds on the island, knowing that the addition of solar essentially removed that property's footprint on Nantucket's energy consumption is something we take a lot of pride in.

As we've reported in earlier blog entries, local business owners have understood the benefits, both fiscally and societally, of energy independence and have taken on the transition at their business locations and personal properties. From Something Natural, the farms of Sustainable Nantucket, and even the Tile Room, these business owners strive to eliminate their impact. Similarly, ACK Smart has just recorded another record breaking quarter in solar sales, indicating that the desire of homeowners to gain this energy independence is thriving.

All of this considered, the greatest challenge has been that of the tale as old as time, Nantucket Past v. Nantucket Future battle. The Historic District Commission, known more commonly around town as the HDC, has strict guidelines for exterior modifications of island properties. Whether or not a property is in the historic downtown area, the HDC monitors and approves every single change requested by homeowners.

Now we know that solar panels aren't exactly historic. If anything, they're really a symbol for the future itself. Finding a middle ground between solar installations and HDC guidelines has been a challenge to say the least. It's an ongoing process that we will continue to cover in the coming weeks as the HDC has just recently come head to head with the Town Selectboard over the restrictions as they are now specified, and if they can be rightfully upheld in the current landscape of the island.

Join us in the educational process of unearthing a solution for the balance between historical preservation and island preservation. The following video is a summary of statements made at a town select board meeting, where a previously rejected solar installation project is discussed between the board, the HDC, and ACK Smart Energy.

We look forward to continuing this conversation.

To view the Nantucket Select Board's comments regarding the HDC rejection of a solar installation, please follow the link below:

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