Based on a state Commonwealth Court decision, the Northampton Area School District could now proceed to have a four-acre, 7,000-panel solar array on the grounds of Lehigh Elementary School.
Last week, the court ruled that Lehigh Township’s zoning officer overstepped her authority by considering whether solar panels are an a common accessory to a school building.
The decision overturns a Northampton County Court ruling and orders the zoning officer to grant the school district approval for the panels previously planned in coordination with MetroTek of Kunkletown.
Judge Bernard McGinley said the question was already in the zoning ordinance as a permitted accessory use.
Atty. Blake Marles for the school district believes that the township and the zoning hearing board are unlikely to appeal the state court decision.
Zoning board solicitor Thomas Caffrey said a similar dispute between NASD and Moore Township was settled to allow the district to build a solar energy array at Moore Elementary School. No action toward installing such a field of solar energy has followed there. That project was also to be installed by MetroTek. The Moore Twsp. Board of Supervisors has enacted an ordinance defining the limits for both residential and commercial solar energy.