ANTRIM ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
September 15, 2009 Meeting
Members & Staff Present: Diane Chauncey (Staff) Doug Crafts (Member)
Ron Haggett (Member) John Giffin (Member) Peter Moore (Planner)
Frank Scales (Member) Don Winchester (Alternate)
Members & Staff Absent: John Kendall (Chair)
Annie Law (Resident ) Robert Cleland (Resident) Richard Block (Resident)
Bonnie Dubrino (Resident) Brenda Schaefer (Resident) Steve Noble (Resident)
Gordon Webber (Selectman) Ben Pratt (Resident) Loranne Carey Block (Resident)
Janice Longgood (Resident) Brendan Block (Resident) Michael Ott (Applicant
Sarah Gorman (Resident) Mark Schaefer (Resident) Maud Cogliano (Resident)
James B. Schaefer (Resident) Karen Walsh (Resident) Francie Von Mertens (Peterborough)
James Hankard (Resident) Carla Bankwell Louise Carignan (Resident)
Ed Carignan (Resident) Margaret Warner (Resident) Sharon Monahan
Colleen Giffin (Resident) Jonas Taub (Resident) Spencer Garrett (Resident)
Doug Stone (Resident)
Joel Harrington (The Nature Conservancy)
Lyman Gilmore (The Villager)
Josh Bond (Ledger/Transcript)
John Soininen (Eolian Renewable Energy)
Jack Kenworthy (Eolian Renewable Energy)
Location: Town Hall (Upstairs)
7:00 Continued Public Meeting:
All information submitted to the ZBA Members is available at Town Hall. The information is sum- marized in the minutes but can be read in its entirety at the Town Hall and some of the information is on the website.
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. Vice-Chair Giffin opened the meeting at 7:14pm, introduced himself and the other Board members. Mr. Winchester was appointed to sit for the absent Chair Kendall. Vice-Chair Giffin asked Mr. Moore to read the Public Notice.
Mr. Moore read the Public Notice: Notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held at 7:15 P.M., Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at the Antrim Town Hall concerning a request by Antrim Wind Energy, LLC for an area variance from Article XIV-D, Section D.1.b. (…In no situation shall the tower exceed 150 feet) to permit the construction of a meteorological tower on property located at 354 Keene Road (Tax Map 212, Lot 30) in Antrim, NH 03440, located in the Rural Conservation District. The applicant proposes to erect a 60 meter (197 feet-8.25 inches) tower to analyze the environmental factors needed to assess the potential to install, construct or erect a wind energy system.
Vice Chair Giffin stated that the only information to be discussed this evening would concern the Met Tower. Eolian Renewable Energy had not been able to respond to the questions and comments of the August 18, 2009 Public Hearing, therefore were given an opportunity to respond to the comments made at the August meeting.
Mr. Kenworthy spoke for Antrim Energy, LLC (a subsidiary of Eolian Renewable Energy, LLC). He presented a PowerPoint presentation which expressed some of the following points in “Eolian Renewable Energy (Distributed, Utility Scale, Wind Energy) Presentation”:
- Energy and Climate crisis
- Problem is carbon based energy
- Energy source chart which depicted the US Energy flow = 58% of all energy purchased and generated in the US is wasted.
- Electricity Flow – losses are great – 63% is al loss and the preponderance of which is coal
- Us carbon flow graphic – 6 billion tons of c)2 emissions /year
- Wasted Carbon – 60% of the emissions come from energy production that we get no value for
- Climate Change Threat Graphic – depicts the average air temperature
- Responses to Threat – “Climate Change seen as threat to US Security” – expressed what the changing climate will do
- Clean Energy Ramp-up – Wind and solar energy growth has accelerating drama
- Installed Wind Capacity as of 4/09 map - showing states with wind energy
- Installed US Capacity – graph showing exponential growth curve
- Recent US Energy Capacity Additions – much of which is wind
- Wind Penetration – US very low – 2%
- New England Market demand map – depicted states and their renewable energy target
- NH Energy Supply – pie chart showing supply by fuel type
- NH Carbon Emissions – wind is an appropriate solution
- Statements from leading Conservation groups stating strong support of wind energy
(Audubon, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife, Sierra Club)
- Tuttle Hill site – 2003 aerial photo – unique location - transmission corridor –proximity to Rt 9
a site that stands out
In summary, an energy supply of wind is leading the way. New Hampshire wants wind power.
The proposed site is well suited. Mr. Kenworthy thanked the attendees and turned the presentation to Mr. Soininen.
Mr. Soininen said that Mr. Kenworthy had explained (via the presentation) some of the wind concerns that had been expressed by the abutters. Mr. Soininen wanted to discuss the criteria of 60-meter tower. He had a handout that clarified the nature and reasons that the variance request should be granted. The handout was available before the meeting, at the meeting, and on the website.
Section I: Further clarification relative to the 5 criteria to be met to grant a variance.
1. The value of surrounding properties will not be diminished because:
a. No substantiated evidence that Wind Development reduces local property values and there is little or not statistical analysis that has been done relative to the effect of met tower installation on property values.
b. No evidence to support the notion that the height of a met tower affects property value
c. No empirical data to support the claim that wind development in NH has or will decrease property values.
2. The variance will not be contrary to the public interest because:
a. The need for a stable, secure, reliable source of energy is fundamental to the stability of our economy.
b. Antrim was one 164 towns in NH to adopt the NH Climate Change Resolution
c. Quote from Section IV of Antrim's final draft of the Master Plan
d. According to RSA 362:1-F which states that in the best interest of the public to facilitate the development of renewable energy.
3. Special conditions exist such that literal enforcement of the ordinance results in unnecessary hardship as follows:
a. An area variance is needed to enable the applicant's proposed use of the property given the special conditions of the property because:
Unique property with 18 different criteria. Some of which are elevation, proximity to electrical transmission lines and access to major state highways.
b. The benefit sought by the applicant cannot be achieved by some other method reasonably feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than an area variance because:
There is no substitute for the empirical data collected from a met tower.
4. Granting the variance would do substantial justice because:
5. The variance is consistent with the spirit of the ordinance because:
Section II “Additional Supporting Documentation”:
1. NH Case Law supports the issuance of a variance in order to protect property owners' rights.
1.] Uniqueness of the property
2.]. Article XIV-D of the Zoning Manual pertains to small wind systems and was identified as the appropriate ordinance to apply for a variance from due to the fact that it deals with the installation of temporary meteorological towers and is an allowed use in all zoning districts where buildings are allowed.
3.] Granting this area variance will not injure public rights. It will benefit the public.
2. RSA 674:33 I(b) eliminates the separate "unnecessary hardship" standard for "area" variances.
3. Section C-1 of Article XIV D of the Antrim Small Wind Ordinance states "Small Wind energy systems and met towers are an accessory us permitted in all zoning districts where structures of any sort are allowed.
4. Variance request at hand has no direct correlation to the development of a wind farm on this site or anywhere else in Antrim.
In summary, preventing a landowner from evaluating the potential to develop a renewable energy generation facility on his property could be argued to be an illegal taking of that landowner's rights.
He would like to request that the Board review the information and come to a vote this evening.
Vice- Chair Giffin said that there would probably not be a vote this evening. He stated that there were many new faces among the Public Attendees and the ZBA would want to hear from all who wanted to speak.
Vice-Chair Giffin asked if there were any who would like speak in favor of the application.
Mr. Moore said that there were two documents that had been received that were in favor of the application:
1. Ben Pratt’s letter, which was read by Ms. Chauncey, stated that
2. Petition submitted by Mr. Webber with signatures of 46 residents who were in favor of the variance to allow erection of a Met tower.
Vice-Chair Giffin asked if there were any opposed to the application:
The following residents spoke in opposition to the proposal. Some of their points are listed.
Mark Schaefer 128 Salmon Brook Road (Abutter)
- Has lived at his home for 25 years
- Has raised four children in this location
- Not against wind energy
- Had bought his land with covenants in the Rural Conservation district
- Rural Conservation is for the town to enjoy
- The site is unique but it is the last wild vestige in Hillsborough County
- Once the 8 towers go in, resale values will go down – local realtor said property will diminish
- The RFFP Appraisal info was done in 2003 by a wind lobbying coalition
- This is not Texas – (Eolian) would better off to move operation out west
- Many homes would be affected
Wes Enman - 16 Pierce Lake Road
- Is in favor of the met tower and that it needs to be investigated
- The tower should be allowed.
Janis Longood - 156 Salmon Brook Road
- Prefaced remarks by saying that she is in favor of alternative energy
- Has thought of conserving her 50 acres
She requested that the town not partner with a company that will not share its collected data
Should not partner with a company that is here for economical reasons
Opposed to the met tower
Sarah Gorman- 286 Keene Road
- Wind turbines drive animals crazy
- Clean energy – how so- if the top of mountain is blasted off
- It would take a million pounds of dynamite to build the towers
- Not an appropriate site
- The ZBA is charged to uphold zoning laws in town
- Not against alternative energy
- ZBA should hold up zoning laws
- She is opposed to wind towers
- The ZBA members were put on the Board to uphold the Zoning Ordinance
- Eolian is profiteering
- She would never buy a home if a met tower was in place
Doug Stone - 334 Keene Road
- Unfair that Eolian can speak of wind towers and the attendees can not
- Thinks the unknown of the towers will devalue his property
- Loves his land and seeing the towers go up will decrease his property value
James Hankard – 322 Clinton Road
- Our right should not be infringed upon by one person
- It feels like it is a done deal
- It will impact property values
Colleen Giffin - 137 Concord Street (Resident)
- Question – is met tower temporary? Vice-Chair Giffin answered yes
- How long will the Tower be in place? Answer - 18 Months
- Will the information be private?
- There should be more meetings for the residents to express their opinions.
John Soininen (Eolian) – He stated that Eolian had presented wind energy information in order to respond to town’s people specific questions at the August 18, 2009 meeting. The ZBA is a judicial board that looks at the information in the application that has been submitted. The Board needed to vote on the Variance request, and he felt that they (the applicants) had submitted all the needed information.
- The ZBA should follow the ordinance and uphold what it says
- Climate change is subjective
- ZBA should not interpret the ordinance
- Infringement on the rights of many
- Anyone on the board who is prejudicial should recuse themselves.
Loranne Block – 63 Loveren Mill (letter available for viewing at Town Hall)
- Property owners should be safeguarded by zoning
- The met tower is not a permitted use
- Approving this – would be a change in ordinance – not allowed to do this
- Just a temporary installation – but just the tip of the iceberg for industrial wind project
- Opens the door to an industrial use
- Mere presence of the met tower will decrease value of their 233 acres.
- She and her family have worked hard to protect Rural Conservation district.
- She has lobbied for conservation.
- She had worked on the open space committee and is a Coverts Cooperator.
- Ask that their rights be respected
- Suggestion to go to Lempster (to see the existing Wind Farm).
- Could Eolian direct him to a met tower location that has been erected by their company.
Richard Block - 63 Loveren Mill Road (letter available for viewing at Town Hall)
- Urged ZBA to carefully review all information and not rush into a vote. He had reviewed the information that had been submitted by Eolian that he felt was a direct rebuttal to the 4-page letter he had submitted on August 18, 2009.
- Has letter from area realtors that states grave damage will occur to the property values
- Local realtor has stated that his business has been seriously affected
- He felt that the REPP (Renewable Energy Policy Project) information was not independent and that the methodology was flawed.
- Data collected from western states – no value to support this (Antrim)case
- He felt that it was unfortunate that Eolian has not realized it is not the height that is the problem, the potential wind farm is the problem.
- he felt that the Boccia case not the Simplex case should be used in determining a decision
The vote should be determined on current law not a future law.
- The entire application is questionable
- The application is not consistent with the spirit of the ordinance
Vice-Chair Giffin asked Mr. Block if he were coming to the end. Mr. Block felt that Eolian had 32 minutes to speak; he should be able to rebut what had been stated.
Michael Ott 354 Keene Road (Owner/Applicant)
- He had bought the property three years ago and had built a house on his land.
- He had no idea that when he bought the land he would be in the middle of a controversy.
- He would like to see the met tower go up to collect the data. Personally, he feels that there may not be enough wind to support the project.
- He saw no harm in going forward. What happens beyond the met tower is unknown.
- The ZBA should think about the over all thoughts of the town
- Conservation land
- He felt dismayed by his first meeting and that the people were not being properly represented.
- The construction of the met tower is a slippery slope. She felt that it had already been pre-determined. The board members had their minds made up.
Mr. Winchester (Alternate ZBA member )stated that he did not know why the attendees felt that the Board members had already made up their minds. A 5-minute time limit had been set. As Chair of the Board for many years, he did not feel that there are any prejudicial treatment was going on. The Board is a volunteer board and takes the job and the concerns of the citizens very seriously. Mr. Winchester explained that the applicants may have more time to explain because they are the applicants.
Joel Harrington – Nature Conservancy
- Owns Loverens Mill Preserve – actually “the people” own it he corrected
- The statement attributed to the Nature Conservancy (in the earlier presentation by Eolian) was about their position on wind farms, not met towers
- Two forest legacy projects have been noted by his organization – Willard Pond and Robb Mt
- Mr. Ott should look at options in conservation
- One of the differences with other wind farm projects is that hey have sat with organizations such as Nature Conservancy, which was done in Lempster.
Eolian should work together with organizations like the Nature Conservancy
Elsa Voelcker - 97 Old Pound Road
- Able to be seen from Gregg Lake and will ruin the Town lake
The power that is made by the Wind Farm will be for someone else and we get nothing from it
Opposed to the met tower
Gordon Webber - 19 Old Hancock Road
- Wanted to speak in favor of the met tower.
- At this time, the discussion is on the met tower and many have brought the conversation to wind towers.
- The ZBA is not only tasked with the zoning ordinance but also to grant variances.
Mr. Soininen asked how much longer would the Board be taking testimony and he urged the Board to close the Public Hearing and begin deliberation.
Mr. Kenworthy questioned how much longer the hearing would go on. He felt that he and Mr. Block could go back and forth forever (countering with opposite information).
Mr. Moore explained that there was too much information to absorb and that the data would need to be reviewed carefully.
Vice-Chair Giffin explained that at some point the information would become redundant. At that time, the Board will close the Public Hearing and deliberate on the decision.
Vice Chair Giffin continued the meeting to a date certain of September 29, 2009.
Mr. Soininen asked a procedural question –is there a requirement that new evidence be submitted 7 days before the meeting - so that the Board has time to evaluate the information.
Mr. Moore said that the Board should have ten days to review the information.
Mr. Soininen thanked the ZBA for their consideration. He stated that he would be happy to provide information for the residents and he did not want to rush the process , but Eolian had started the process months ago and was concerned about weather and time constraints.
Mr. Haggett moved to continue the public meeting to a date certain of September 29, 2009. Mr. Scales seconded the motion, and it was approved by the Board. The attendees slowly left the Town Hall.
Approve September 8, 2009 minutes Mr. Haggett moved to accept the minutes as presented. Mr. Scales seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.
Reminder - OEP Annual Fall Planning & Zoning Conference - October 17, 2009
Any other business: None
At 9:15 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