ANTRIM ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
August 18, 2009 Meeting
Members & Staff Present: Diane Chauncey (Staff) Doug Crafts (Member)
Ron Haggett (Member) John Giffin (Member) John Kendall (Chair)
Peter Moore (Planner) Frank Scales (Member)
Members & Staff Absent: Don Winchester (Alternate)
Annie Law (Resident ) Robert Cleland (Resident) Amy Zaluki- Stone (Resident)
Richard Block (Resident) Shelly Nelkens (Resident) Bonnie Dubrino (Resident)
Ellen Druan (Abutter) Brenda Schaefer (Resident) Steve Noble (Resident)
Michael Pon (The Villager) Gordon Webber (Selectman) Ben Pratt (Resident)
Loranne Block (Resident) Janice Longgood (Resident) Josh Bond (Ledger/Transcript)
Sarah Gorman (Resident) Andy Robblee (Resident/PB)
John Soininen (Eolian Renewable Energy. LLC)
Jack Kenworthy (Eolian Renewable Energy, LLC)
Gordon Webber (Resident/Selectmen)
7:00 Continued Public Meeting #2009-02ZBA Variance Request for a Height Variance:
All information submitted to the ZBA Members is available at Town Hall. The information is summarized in the minutes but can be read in its entirety at the Town Hall.
Continued Public Meeting for an Area Variance request by Antrim Wind Energy, LLC for the height of a meteorological (met) tower proposed to be constructed on property located at 354 Keene Road (Map 212, Lot 30) in Antrim, NH located in the Rural Conservation District. Chair Kendall opened the meeting at 7:14pm, introduced himself and the other Board members. There was a five-person board. Chair Kendall stressed that this evening's meeting concerned a height variance for a temporary meteorological tower and that was the only subject to be discussed. Chair Kendall asked if there were any new information. Mrs. Chauncey read two letters that had been received on August 18, 2009. One letter (letter on file) was from Peter Bean, son of Charles Bean, owner of Antrim Realty Trust - an 884-acre property abutting Lot 30 (many residents know the area
because they have traveled the "Hattie Brown Road"). The letter stated support of the Antrim Wind Energy LLC Project. The second letter was from Michael H.J. Ott, owner of 354 Keene Road. He stated in his letter (letter on file) that although he wished to participate in the meeting, his work schedule did not allow it, and that he fully supported the proposed met tower on his property.
Jack Kenworthy (CEO Eolian Renewable Energy LLC) presented FAA certification that stated that no lighting is necessary for a 60-meter tower.
Mr. Kenworthy continued with a summary of Antrim Wind Energy LLC's position. He thanked all who had hiked the met tower site. Mr. Kenworthy expressed the fact that he understood the concern of some of the abutters and he had a committed effort to directly contact all abutters and listened to their concerns. He has an extensive background and information in the alternative energy world. It is his effort to be as transparent as possible with the people attending the meeting but he would request that at this time only the met tower should be addressed and nothing else.
Mr. Kenworthy stated the following facts:
Eolian represented the property owner
Variance height request for 60 meters
The structure is a temporary tower
There will be no noise, no light
The structure will be removed after use
The only road will be an existing 4-wheeler road
The guy wires will have a color - to be visible
Department of Environmental Services is not involved and requires no additional permits
The tower will have no pegs (not easy to climb)
There will be a large setback
The installation is on private property
Met Towers are allowed uses in areas zoned Rural Conservation
There are no health risks
Eolian has supplied plans for the proposed met tower - well tested and widely used
The met tower to be installed is an industry standard
The Site Walk on Tuttle Hill on Ott's Land (Map212 Lot 30) in the western portion of the Town of Antrim - the proposed site for the Met Tower - had occurred a week previous to the 8/18/2009 meeting. The Planning Department Staff had taken pictures of the event and a short video was shown (in which Drew Kenworthy explained the construction of the Met Tower). The presentation intended to give the non-participants of the site walk - the flavor of the Met Tower site, the surrounding area, and to hear some of the questions presented to the Antrim Wind Energy LLC representatives.
The Public Attendees were asked if they had any questions for Jack Kenworthy concerning the construction of the met tower. There were no questions from the public attendees or the Board.
Chair Kendall stated the procedure for the next portion of the Public Hearing. Each speaker would have an opportunity to speak once, state their concerns, and limit the time to five minutes.. The order would be: abutters in favor of the proposal, abutters not in favor of the proposal, others in favor of the proposal, others not in favor of the proposal. Chair Kendall stated that the Area Variance presented is an important variance. It would come down to five people making a decision. The decision would not determine a potential wind turbine farm; the decision would determine the construction of a Met Tower. He further explained that it would be important to understand that the variance would be strictly a height variance for a Met Tower, and if the data were to prove an ideal location for a Wind Farm, there would be intense scrutiny of
the potential wind farm. The height variance is for a single tower on top of a hill.
Chair Kendall asked if there were any abutters in favor of the proposal who would like to speak:
Ellen Druan , Keene Road -The town can be sued for the damage being done. Big birds are being killed. The Wind Turbines are a dangerous, communist thing that the town can not take lightly. Ms. Druan submitted handouts to the Board and the attendees. The handouts (on file) gave information about birds affected by wind turbines and that a town may be sued because it allows a wind farm to be constructed.
Chair Kendall thanked Ms. Druan for her comments and informational handouts and agreed that there was much information to absorb, but asked again if there were any in favor of the proposal for a Met tower who would wish to speak.
Sarah Gorman, 286 Keene Road - Ms. Gorman stated that she lives where she lives for the environment, for the river, for the wildlife, for the natural environment. The North Branch River is an important water shed to the Contoocook River. Zoning laws are in effect to prevent eyesores on top of hills - destroying the view. Ms. Gorman expressed her concerns that the same neighborhood had fought against a nuclear waste dump, a prison, and a cell tower. She said that people will come together and show solidarity in fighting the wind farm. Ms. Gorman felt that the Wind Farm will not help citizens of Antrim. She discussed other alternative energy methods that Antrim had available: (methane from the dairy farm, wood-fired electric facility, etc.). Ms. Gorman stated that greed is the motivation not the environment. She worried about the
value of property values and stressed the importance of the environment. Zoning laws are to prevent something like the meteorological tower going up. She stated that she felt the wind turbines would destroy the scenic view and would be "selling out the environment to do it" (put up a wind farm). Ms. Gorman stated that she has been a resident of North Branch for 27 years, is part Native American, and the top of Tuttle Hill is sacred.
Chair Kendall asked if there were any who would like to speak in favor of the proposal:
Ben Pratt, 64 Littles Lane - Mr. Pratt hoped that the variance would be approved. The proposed structure is a temporary structure of minimal environmental impact. It will gather a great deal of useful data -no matter what happens because of the data - it will be useful - barometric, humidity, temperature, wind velocity, wind shear, wind currents pressure variations etc. - all will be added to a body of knowledge that will increase the knowledge of the world we live in. Mr. Pratt did not see a significant downside to the construction of a Met Tower.
Gordon Webber, 19 Old Hancock Road - Mr. Webber said that his family has lived in Antrim since 1965. His parents and brothers support the Met Tower and the possibility of a Wind Farm - we see it as an asset to the town, the country, and the world.
Shelly Nelkens, 11 North Main St, asked if the information would be available to all.
Jack Kenworthy, Antrim Wind Energy, LLC- He said that it would not be generally available - it took much experience to gather the information. The time, effort, knowledge, money, and experience would not be public information but would be shared with the universities, etc.
Chair Kendall asked if there are other met towers in NH. How many have been erected and what kind of data has been accumulated?
Jack Kenworthy - Mr. Kenworthy stated that the information is not easily accessed. Much of it involves business trade information. The Dept of Environmental Services is not involved in the permitting process. The Met Tower is geared toward wind energy assessments and weather models. The Met Tower will gather for the specific area and is not standard weather information.
Shelly Nelkens - She said that if she realized that a Met Tower is going up, she would not buy land in that town because a Met Tower means the possibility of a wind farm.
Chair Kendall - The discussion is limited to the Met Tower and the height variance.
Shelly Nelkens - The variance - "there is no necessity for it in and of itself " Ms. Nelkens stated that the Met tower is tied into the Wind Farm and she is not sure how the Board can get around that fact.
Chair Kendall agreed that the Board does have to vote on a height variance and that the Board has been appointed by the Selectmen and the Board should be relied upon to make a good decision for the town.
Sarah Gorman felt that the Board may be setting a precedent by allowing the Met Tower and that the Board represents the people. Some people may have to look at the Wind Farm every day.
Chair Kendall explained that the Board reviews all information and makes a decision based on that information. The Town should have faith in the Board.
Steven Noble , 146 Pierce Lake Road - Mr. Noble would like to go on record that he is in favor of the study (data collection by the Met Tower). He wanted to find out if the Town of Antrim could get a lower kilowatt rate because a wind farm is located in its borders. He stated that the Met Tower does not mean that a Wind Farm will be constructed within the town; that will not be known until the data is collected. Mr. Noble had been in the fuel oil business for 30 years and realizes that there is a need to find another means of fueling the country. The Met Tower is just trying to find information. He agreed with Ben Pratt that the data collection is necessary.
Janis Longgood, 156 Salmon Brook Road - She stated that she had lived in Antrim on her property for 25 years. Ms. Longgood felt that making an exception on Rural Conservation land would be traveling down a slippery slope. The Rural Conservation land is the wildest area in Antrim. A cell tower or multiple family housing is not allowed in the Rural Conservation District. She had been thinking about placing her land in conservation but not if this should happen. She enjoyed the area for the wildlife, bats, hawks, etc. She stated that she would not want to live here (with a wind farm), and instead of seeing hawks, she may look at wind turbines, and felt that it would ruin the entire town, and wanted to go on record she did not agree with the met tower variance.
Sarah Gorman said that the Met Tower opens the door for future and agreed with Ms. Longgood's 'slippery slope' statement. She called the construction of the Met Tower 'destruction not construction'.
Bonnie Dubrino, 398 Keene Road said that she had read in the Zoning Ordinance that a structure was to be no higher than thirty-five feet and in another section - that under no circumstances was a tower to be higher than one-hundred-fifty feet. So she did not understand how the 60-meter Met Tower could be allowed.
Mr. Haggett stated that the height variance is for a 60-meter Met Tower, and that the ZBA has the authority to adjust the zoning ordinance.
Chair Kendall explained that the Met Tower did fit into the regulations stated in the Zoning Ordinance and that was the reason for the relief from the Zoning Ordinance - the height variance request. He further stated that after the cell tower proposal, he can not imagine what it would be like for a wind farm proposal, and that he will want to hear from all to help make an appropriate decision.
Bonnie Dubrino -She had gone to a realtor and the realtor had said that she should not place her property on the market.
Mr. Crafts said that no one can predict the future. He did not know what would happen with property values and that we all would need to wait for the results. He said that no one knew what would happen in three years.
Chair Kendall, after some disruption, repeated that only one person will speak at a time.
Bonnie Dubrino said that she can not wait three years (to sell her home), and she felt that she was waiting the ZBA's decision.
Loranne Carey Block, 63 Loveren Mill Road - petition for the board under category of 'public interest' 66 signatures - would like the board to note that the signatures are people who live in the area and are directly related to the area. (petition on file at Town Hall)
Shelley Nelkens felt that the ZBA was looking at the Zoning Ordinance incorrectly. The Met Tower should not be constructed above 150', and it is clearly written and does not understand how it can be looked at differently when the phrase 'under no circumstances' is used.
Mr. Haggett said that the Met Tower does not meet the Zoning Ordinance requirements and that is the reason for requesting a variance.
Mr. Moore said that the Small Wind Ordinance was chosen because it addressed Met Towers. The Planning Staff, the ZBA, Town Counsel, and advice from the Local Government Center determined that the it was the best ordinance to go with. Provisions are built within the ordinance for a temporary structure. Antrim Wind Energy could have asked for a variance under Rural Conservation District which allows Public Utilities as a principal use and the Met Tower as an accessory to the principal use. Mr. Moore read the definition for a Public Utility as defined by RSA 362:2 (attached).
Richard Block, 63 Loveren Mill Road - Mr. Block read a letter submitted to the Board (letter on file at the Town Hall). He stated that the request for a variance be declared invalid. These are some of the important points:
" Spirit of the Ordinance violated - can not change the ordinance 5 specific criteria
" Read letter about negative impact on property and uncertainty
" Paul Hardwick letter (realtor in Antrim) expressed concern about met tower and possible negative impact on resale value of properties in area
" Quotes from Boccia legal decision
" Criteria not addressed particularly criteria 4 and 5
Chair Kendall attempted to stop Mr. Block but he continued with his summary, and what he felt was the short coming of the application.
John Soininen said that information presented by Mr. Block was subjective and incorrect; that it was not facts but opinions.
Robert Cleland, 43 Farmstead Rd - Mr. Cleland stated that he felt that wildlife would be destroyed, and that property would be devalued.
Ellen Druan She said that she is not trying to be mean - elderly members of board, could do whatever they want, can do what they want, not Germany, concerns many towns, only a handful of people here, need the whole town and surrounding towns to know about it, all taxpayers in town should know about it
Janis Longgood - did not find any information about the Public Meeting on the website.
Chair Kendall said that maybe better communication was needed.
Brenda Schaefer, 47 Salmon Brook Road had bought her property in order to live in the Rural Conservation District and she agreed with other opposing residents and that it is a slippery slope and would like to go on record that she is opposed to the Met Tower.
Chair Kendall had thought that the Public Hearing would have gone a little smoother. He chose not close the Public Hearing - there was too much information to absorb. He did want to make one point -factual evidence was needed to make decisions, not just opinions.
Shelly Nelkens asked if opinions of the people in the area did not matter?
Sarah Gorman said that the ZBA member's individual opinion should not matter - they should stand up for the people in the town - do not allow the met tower and make it easier in the future - there will be no wind farm - keep the zoning laws with the intent they were written for or we will secede from the town.
Chair Kendall tried to restore order.
Richard Block said that the application must be considered as presented and it was not presented properly.
Chair Kendall asked if the agents for Antrim Wind Energy, LLC wished to speak.
Jack Kenworthy said that there was obviously a lot of emotional response, a lot of interest in what may happen in the future. The applicant is not requesting a wind farm, but rather requesting a Met Tower. There are many deep and complex areas. The question of how properties are valued - the preponderance of evidence is that wind farms increase the value of the property. All the arguments presented have been future based arguments that are related to the wind farm. The matter at hand is the temporary Met Tower. He disagreed that a Wind Farm would be of no value to the Town of Antrim - it is a sought after form of development because of the tax revenue that is increased - decreasing property taxes ready. He would be willing to discuss the facts.
Chair Kendall closed the Public Hearing, but continued the Public Meeting to September 15, 2009 at 7:15 in the Antrim Town Hall. The Public Meeting does not need to re-noticed (because it has been continued to a date certain) but it will be on the www.antrimnh.org website on the Meetings Calendar page.
Approve August 11, 2009 minutes (site walk meeting) Mr. Haggett moved that the minutes should be accepted as presented. Mr. Scales seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.
Update on Cell Tower status On September 8, 2009, the ZBA will meet to deliberate (deny or grant) the #2009-01ZBA Appeal application submitted by four abutters.
OEP Annual Fall Planning & Zoning Conference - October 17, 2009
Registration starts 8/20/09@ www.nh.gov/oep/events/fall_conference/index/.htm Board members should sign up on line.
Update - "Flood Insurance Study for the County of Hillsborough, NH, dated September 25, 2009 - updated page for insertion to Article XII - Zoning Ordinance - new handout to replace page XII-1 and XII - 2 in Board member's Zoning Ordinance Manual.
Any other business No new business
At 9:30 pm, Mr. Haggett moved to adjourn the Public Meeting. It was seconded by Mr. Crafts, and approved.
Diane M. Chauncey
Planning Assistant, On Behalf of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment