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New England Legal Foundation Urges Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court To Protect Solar Energy Development As A Land Use Priority

Local Prohibitions on Solar Would Violate Clear Legislative Purpose, Says Legal Advocate for Business Community

 BOSTON – The New England Legal Foundation, the region’s leading voice for free enterprise and property rights, filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Court in Tracer Lane II Realty, LLC v. City of Waltham to encourage solar energy development. Waltham, like other communities, has attempted to block utility scale solar energy development despite a legislative enactment that restricts local zoning that prohibits or unreasonably regulates new solar energy capacity in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Zoning Act provides special protection for property owners who wish to use their land for solar energy purposes: “[N]o zoning ordinance or by-law shall prohibit or unreasonably regulate the installation of solar energy systems or the building of structures that facilitate the collection of solar energy, except where necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare.” In this case, NELF asserts that a property owner should be free to use their land for solar energy purposes, unless the local government can make a strong showing that such use would harm the public interest. NELF points to well-settled precedent of educational and religious uses where the courts have upheld other legislative land use priorities.

“We can’t have it both ways in New England, where development of new, clean or green energy supply is blocked by the same people who raise alarms about climate change,” said NELF President Dan Winslow.  A decision on the case is not expected for several months. NELF Senior Staff Attorney Ben Robbins authored the brief.

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About the New England Legal Foundation: For nearly 50 years, the New England Legal Foundation has filed amicus briefs and impact litigation in support of free enterprise, property rights, good and limited government, and inclusive economic growth. NELF Website

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