Solar panels evicted in Southshore Heights Homeowners Association dispute

A southwest Omaha homeowners association is suing Tim Adams to force him to remove these solar panels from his house, shown in May 2011.

The sun is setting on the solar panels atop Tim Adams’ house.

The Southshore Heights Homeowners Association and Adams, an Omaha orthodontist, have settled a lawsuit over the solar panels that Adams installed on his house at 4787 S. 167th St., according to court documents.

The settlement: Adams must have the panels removed by July 1.

Adams had vowed not to back down in his battle with the homeowners association that sued him on the grounds that the solar panels violated neighborhood covenants.

However, Adams has endured setbacks since the lawsuit. He’s going through a divorce. And he left his dental practice this fall. His website refers patients to another dentist, saying Adams left “due to (a) sudden medical condition.”

Under terms of the settlement, the homeowners association will pay a contractor $3,000 toward removal of the solar panels. Adams will pay “the balance” of the project’s cost.

The settlement also says that Adams “agrees to take no legal action or file complaints, administrative or otherwise,” against the homeowners association.

He also “agrees to make no further public comments (Facebook, website, media, billboards, etc.) regarding this case, or the homeowners association and its members.”

Adams waged a public battle with Southshore Heights after homeowners took him to court over the solar panels he spent $40,000 installing on his roof in 2010. He has said he spent at least $7,500 to rent billboards decrying the lawsuit and even more for attorneys to fight the lawsuit.

He created a website stating his side of the story and espousing the virtues of solar power. He granted several interviews. And he vowed to fight. His website even played the Tom Petty song, “I Won’t Back Down.”

Homeowners association board members didn’t back down, either.

The board, including members Al Williams and Harry Allen, sued Adams claiming he violated decades-old neighborhood covenants against “solar heating and cooling devices.” Board members argued that the solar panels could drive down home values, a point Adams disputed.

Adams argued that the association’s covenants didn’t specify solar panels and that such rules were null and void because they were selectively enforced.

He also pointed out the power of his panels noting that, at peak times, his system could actually provide surplus energy to the electrical grid.

Douglas County District Judge Joseph Troia had refused to rule in favor of either side, saying the case had issues that needed to be ferreted out at trial.

In one order, Troia ruled that the association had been “consistently inconsistent in the manner in which ‘improvements’ have been reviewed and approved, which doesn’t allow for good direction to those homeowners desiring to improve their homes and/or property.”

The homeowners association, on the other hand, argued that Adams “tried to slip one past the association by installing his solar system without getting approved” and that the installation of the solar panels amounted to a “most flagrant violation” of association rules.

Troia ruled that he needed to hear more during a scheduled December trial. However, the two sides notified the court of the settlement before trial.

Neither Adams nor his attorney returned phone calls Friday.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1275,

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