ANTRIM PLANNING BOARD MEETING MINUTES
January 23, 2014
Continued Planning Board Meeting (Deliberation) for a Petitioned Warrant Article
Members & Staff Present: Diane Chauncey (Secretary) Chris Condon (Member)
Jesse Lazar (Chair) Charles Levesque (Vice-Chair) Steve MacDonald (Member) Janet McEwen (Alternate) Martha Pinello (Member) Sarah VanderWende (Member) Gordon Webber (Ex-officio)
Lindsey Arceci Fred Ward Peter Moore Peter Burwen Sean Burwen
7:00PM Planning Board Deliberation on Petitioned Warrant Article (continued from January 16, 2014):
Citizen’s petition requesting the following addition to the Zoning Ordinance ballot (Are you in favor of adoption of an amendment to the Town of Antrim Zoning Ordinance which would provide for the development of Commercial Wind Farms in the Rural Conservation District and the Highway Business District and establish specific development standards, including standards on proper construction, public health and safety, noise, environmental and visual impacts, and require operational agreements with the Town?)
Chair Lazar opened the meeting at 7PM. The Board introduced themselves. Chair Lazar stated that the Board had met on January 16, 2014 in a Public Hearing to hear comment on the citizen petitioned warrant article. He said that during the deliberation, no public input would occur. He explained that when a citizen’s petition is submitted, the Planning Board was expected to make a recommendation for the March 11 ballot – to recommend or not recommend the amendment. The Board is not against renewable energy; the Board concurred that the issue was a land use issue.
Chair Lazar stated that he expected thoughtful deliberation from all the Board members. He read the rules to the Board.
Vice Chair Levesque began by stating that he would be utilizing two criteria in his deliberation. He stated that he had listened to the comments made at the meeting and reviewed all the testimony submitted. The criteria:
1. The purpose of the Rural Conservation District (RCD) had been established by the voters.
He read the definition of the RCD.
2. The authority granted to the PB in RSA 674:16 to amend the zoning ordinance; the
purpose of which is to promote health, safety and the welfare of the community.
After a clarification of the meaning of Vice-Chair Levesque’s criteria, Mr. Webber stated that he was not sure how this differed from two years ago. And Mr. Webber’s other comment concerned allowing only Antrim residents to speak – if that were the case than the Audubon and Fred Ward letters should not be a part of the testimony. He felt the letters should be disregarded.
It was determined that it would be impossible to disregard the information, as the Board had read the testimony.
Chair Lazar stated that the Board should be attempting to convince each other of the appropriate recommendation – to recommend or not recommend the amendment.
Mr. MacDonald stated that there was a third approach – it would be possible to take no position.
The Board discussed the merits of Mr. MacDonald’s suggestion. RSA 675:4 (5 parts – part III was read) was read and the interpretation of the RSA was discussed. Some felt that a recommendation was necessary; others did not.
Ms. McEwen said that the petition should not be recommended if “even one word or one sentence was disagreeable”, it would be significant enough to not recommend as a whole, because it could not be amended.
Mr. Webber stated that the petition could not be amended.
Mr. Condon said that if the petition passed there would be an opportunity to amend and correct the ordinance.
Ms. McEwen disagreed that the petition could be amended.
Vice-Chair Levesque said that an assumption was being made that the application would come before the Board; it is possible that the SEC may still have jurisdiction over this project.
The Board discussed the probability of the SEC jurisdiction over an Antrim Wind Energy application. There was disagreement.
It was eventually determined that the discussion was not relevant for this meeting. The Board needed to vote up or down the citizen’s petition ordinance.
Vice-Chair Levesque stated that some parts of the petition ordinance were perfectly acceptable; others were not. He listed points to be considered.
- RCD purpose and definition read (numerous speakers had referred to the definition); health, safety and welfare mentioned by a number of speakers
- Page 1 - B. (of the ordinance) – nothing on visual or aesthetic impacts
- Page 1 - C. Nothing is said about property values
- Page 2 - G. – Only year round residences are addressed – issue taken with the many seasonal homes as if they don’t exist
- Page 2 - I. – Not clear on height restrictions of a permanent met tower – could be 500’!
- Page 4 – B. ii. – Setback from Property Lines - Setback distance between and wind turbine and any landowner owning adjacent property shall be not les that 1.1 times the Turbine height… woefully and inadequate. Mr. Levesque cited a turbine collapse incident in PA. Protection is needed for private property.
- Page 5 - B. vii. – No height designation for met tower
- Page 8 - 13. Noise Restrictions – Mr. Levesque said that the Ad Hoc committee had spent much time on the issue. The petition ordinance has inappropriate numbers.
- Page 9 - 14. Shadow Flicker – Only year round homes are mentioned – what about the others
- Page 9 - 15. Decommissioning – Mr. Levesque referred to Bob Edwards contributions on decommissioning and stated that the petition is inadequate.
- Page 16 - Municipal Agreement A. Woefully inadequate and questioned if the Board of Selectmen would have anything to say in the agreement
- Page 16 - Municipal Agreement vi. – Blasting protocols – Abutters are not addressed
In summary, Mr. Levesque stated that there is nothing about enforcement; no time lines; would the Board of Selectmen have the ability to issue a Cease & Desist; nothing stated about Emergency Response; and nothing was stated concerning wildlife and monitoring.
Mr. Condon objected, stating that the proposed ordinance was different from the previously proposed ordinance only in a matter of degree and that Vice-Chair Levesque's characterization of any inadequacies was exaggerated.
Mr. Webber objected and stated that the area could be clear cut and house or another of the allowed uses could change the RCD.
Vice-Chair Levesque stated that if there were to be a development of a different scale.
Ms. Pinello said the Antrim Zoning Ordinance was voted by the voters and within the ordinance, there are a set of standards which include steep slopes, setbacks, frontage, etc. She said that the community has already voted on what is allowed in the district.
Mr. Webber stated that the ordinance can also be changed by the voters, at a later time.
A discussion ensued. Some of the Member points, thoughts, and questions were as follows:
- Some important items are not addressed – e.g. – visual impact
- Not comfortable with the language
- The design standards are covered in page 5, Section 10
- Does it do everything that an ordinance is supposed to do?
- Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – no one will write a perfect ordinance – some are asking for an unreasonable standard
- Could the Board administrate this ordinance?
- Are visual and aesthetic the same thing?
- There are mitigation efforts to address some of the wind turbine effects
- The ordinance is woefully inadequate with very little in it, especially when compared with the Large Scale Wind Ordinance developed by the Planning Board
- Conditional use permits have become a standard for this type of development. They allow the Planning Board to put conditions on the project.
- A particular project and create to suit that project
- 1.1 times the height of the tower is not a significant difference
- Problems from wind towers – ice throw, blade breaking, etc.
Ms. McEwen had reviewed the ordinance, researched various sources for standards, and that industry standards had not been followed. She said that a Site Plan Review is insufficient and that an Ordinance is necessary. She stated that the proposed ordinance is inadequate. She listed some of the issues with the proposed ordinance:
- Page 3 - Dimensional Requirements A. Maximum height – where did the 500’ come from?
- Page 4 - B. Setbacks –ii. – setbacks and height - concerned with language
- Page 7 – Development Requirements C. Waste Disposal – should be more stringent
- Page 7 J. Wetlands – language concerns
- Page 8 – 13. Noise Restrictions – A. – ordinance should have been more conservative
Ms. VanderWende questioned if the state law would override the municipal ordinance – whichever is more stringent?
Chair Lazar said that there were many important points to consider.
Ms. Pinello stated that conditional use is the standard for new large scale development. She said that conditional use allows a community and developer to work together. She highly recommended conditional use and stated that the citizens’ petitioned ordinance is other than that.
Ms. Pinello continued with what she felt was a larger concern – the two agreements (the PILOT Agreement and the Agreement between Town of Antrim, NH and Antrim Wind Energy LLC Developer/Owner of the Antrim Wind Power Project Dated as of March 8th, 2012 signed by the Board of Selectmen). She said that the Town of Antrim had voted for a Planning Board in 1971 to deal with land use issues. When the Board of Selectmen unfortunately signed the agreements, it complicated the issue. She said that she was not sure who had the authority to enforce it.
Mr. Levesque stated that the Board of Selectmen overstepped their bounds.
Ms. Pinello stated that the language in the ordinance does not make for a good ordinance.
Mr. Levesque stated that the SEC may have jurisdiction over any project that is brought to Antrim by Antrim Wind Energy LLC.
A discussion about the SEC and its process ensued.
Ms. Pinello stated – “each of us has to decide”.
Chair Lazar stated that if the citizens’ petition ordinance had met all the criteria, it would be different. He gave examples of visual impact and setbacks not addressed properly.
Ms. Pinello reiterated that the citizens’ petition ordinance should not include the Board of Selectmen agreement. She said that the structure was poor and there were numerous other deficiencies and there was a conflict in implementation of the ordinance.
Ms. VanderWende stated that the issue was elementary - the Board of Selectmen is not a land use Board. The verbiage in the citizens’ petition ordinance is the same as the Selectmen’s agreement – so to ask a separate arm of the government to endorse what has been endorsed by another Board, makes no sense.
Mr. Webber stated that some do not like the fact that Antrim Wind Energy, LLC wrote the ordinance. It was submitted by Antrim citizens. He continued that now the ordinance is before the Planning Board and the Board needed to decide the merits of the ordinance. He said that the Board of Selectmen agreement had been vetted by Town Counsel, and although it may muddy the waters, it is a legal document; and the same for the PILOT. He also said that the citizens’ petition ordinance was legal and not inappropriate. And now he said the board needed to determine whether or not to recommend the ordinance.
Chair Lazar asked if there were any who supported the ordinance who would like to speak.
Motion: Vice-Chair Levesque moved to disapprove the citizens’ petition ordinance article and that the language on the ballot state that the Planning Board does not approve the petitioned amendment. Mr. Webber seconded the motion.
Amendment: Mr. Webber moved to amend the motion, to state the actual vote. Mr. Condon seconded.
Chair Lazar asked for deliberation on the amendment. There was a short discussion and then a call for a vote.
Roll Call Vote on the Amendment: VanderWende, yes; Condon, no; Lazar, yes; Levesque, yes; Pinello, yes; MacDonald, no; Webber, no.
The amendment failed.
Roll Call Vote on the original Motion: VanderWende, no; Condon, yes; Lazar, no; Levesque, no; Pinello, no; MacDonald, yes; Webber, yes.
The motion passed 4 – 3.
There was a short discussion concerning the wording on the ballot. By consensus, the following will be on the ballot:
Amendment #5: Are you in favor of the adoption of Amendment No. 5 as submitted by petition for the Town of Antrim Zoning Ordinance which would provide for the development of Wind Farms in the Rural Conservation District and the Highway Business District and establish specific development standards, including standards on proper construction, public health and safety, noise, environmental and visual impacts, and require operational agreements with the Town?
The Planning Board does not approve the petitioned amendment.
Explanation: This is an 11-page amendment to the Zoning Ordinance.
Approve - December 19, 2013 minutes Mr. Webber moved to accept the minutes; Vice-Chair Levesque seconded. The minutes were unanimously approved, as amended.
Approve - January 16, 2014 minutes Mr. Webber moved to accept the minutes; Vice-Chair Levesque seconded. The minutes were unanimously approved, as amended.
At 9:03 pm, Ms. VanderWende moved to adjourn. Mr. Condon seconded the motion. All voted unanimously to adjourn.
Respectfully submitted, Diane Chauncey, Secretary of the Planning Board