Thursday, January 10, 2013

Solar showdown on Plymouth Road

View Larger MapThe location of the solar panel installation

Following our earlier article about some local opposition to a potential wind power collaboration between the city and the public schools, comes this story about some residents who are up in arms about the installation of photovoltaic solar panels at the old Pfizer campus. Some residents don't like the five rows of solar panels which they see as an industrialization of that stretch of Plymouth Road. I feel obliged to point out that the particular location, which is across from a strip mall parking lot, was already an industrial location when it was owned by Pfizer. There are also complaints about the aesthetics of the solar panels. To be honest, I do understand where residents are coming from on this. The installation really does interfere with the previously pristine view of the small hill that blocks the view of the North Campus Research Complex's parking lot.

Ok, enough snaking. It seems like the feeling underlying the a lot of the complaints is that U of M executed this project without telling folks in the area that they would be doing it. I can understand people being upset that the panels seemingly appeared overnight and the feeling that they neighbors would want to be informed about changes in the neighborhood. That said, I can also understand why the U of M might be a little gunshy about involving neighbors in a projects. Considering that there is this much anger about a very small solar array going up on a previously industrial area that does not border any residential properties. If residents want U of M to be better at involving them in the planning process for projects in the city, they need to do their part to make sure that it's a productive one. I'm not saying the U of M has been great about involving the community in planning, but let's put on our imagination caps for a second here. If you were in charge of building a solar array somewhere for U of M and your options were to either build it wherever and get a lot of flack from some residents, or to have some community participation meetings where you get flack from residents and then to build it anyway and get more flack, which would you chose?


  1. Yeah, it's kind of ugly, but you can really only see it either from the already ugly parking lot of an already ugly strip mall or while driving by on an ugly road. It's not like there was ever anyone out there enjoying nature in the form of a grass berm that Pfizer put up (I imagine, at least) so you couldn't see into their campus from the road...

    On the other hand, U-M could at least have added a little architectural charm to the whole thing, as it is pretty ugly.

  2. They are going to add some landscaping to block the view from the road. I think they just have to wait till spring before they can start that.

  3. Seeing that dotcom article gave me an idea that I don't have the energy to implement: you could make a local Onion-type news site by simply copying the entire dotcom but replacing their headlines with more straightforward ones. Really, Ann Arbor? It's come to this?