Solar Panel, Driveway Expansion Permitting Coming to Lansdale
The borough code enforcement office is researching how other municipalities handle permits.
Driveway expansions and solar power—two things Lansdale Borough just doesn’t permit, yet.
The code enforcement committee this month authorized code enforcement director John Ernst to research the way other municipalities handle permitting for driveway expansions and solar panel installation.
Ernst said these two issues have been requested recently by residents.
As far as driveway expansion, Ernst said residents, from time to time, request expansion of their driveway width to park more cars.
“Our zoning code requires that a driveway cannot encroach a certain distance to a property setback line,” he said. “Right now, we have no permit for driveway expansion and I have no way of checking whether any homeowner or property owner who wishes to expand their driveway meets our zoning code with infringement on the setback.”
Ernst said the permit process is what requires a resident or property owner to provide documentation indicating how close they are getting to the property line.
“I have no recourse to check what they are doing violates our zoning code,” he said.
Ernst plans to research how other municipalities are dealing with the issue.
Councilman Mike Riccio, who sits on the code enforcement committee, asked if Ernst would look at boroughs versus townships.
Ernst said Lansdale is different in that there are not a lot of proliferation of driveways.
“We have many alleys and we do have driveways in certain locations,” he said. “I will look at boroughs and townships, about 12 different municipalities, and how they deal with that.”
On the subject of solar panels, Ernst said the borough code enforcement office is getting a lot of requests for solar panel installations from resident and businesses.
“At this present time, there is no process for which an application is submitted that gives us an opportunity to check the structural integrity of a roof system that would be required,” he said.
Such a structural check would determine if a roof can support the extra weight of a solar panel system along with the added dead loads of snow in the winter.
Borough engineer Chris Fazio suggested Ernst reach out to a member at his firm, Remington, Vernick and Beach.
“We serve as building code officials for seven towns in Montgomery County and Bucks County and we are doing a lot of solar permitting and inspections,” Fazio said.