ANTRIM ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
September 29, 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)
Richard Block (Resident) Ellen Druan (Abutter)
Ben Pratt (Resident) Loranne Carey Block (Resident)
Janice Longgood (Resident) Michael Ott (Applicant)
Sarah Gorman (Resident) Marie Harriman (Resident)
James Hankard (Resident) Carla Bankwell (Resident)
Spencer Garrett (Abutter) Shelly Nelkens (Resident)
Chris Condon (Resident) Kara Penny (Resident)
Paula Clemente (Appraiser) Steve Noble (Resident)
Riley Pierce Brendan Block (Resident)
Michael Pon (The Villager)
John Soininen (Eolian Renewable Energy)
Jack Kenworthy (Eolian Renewable Energy)
Drew Kenworthy (Eolian Renewable Energy)
Gordon Webber (Resident)
Location: Town Hall (Upstairs)
Review September 15, 2009 minutes
7:15 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. The documents submitted at this meeting, September 29, 2009 are on the website and at Town Hall in a booklet named “Information submitted on September 29, 2009”.
The meeting was a continued Public Hearing 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.
Chair Kendall explained that he and the Board members have been reading all submitted information but because the information is new, it had taken time to absorb. He urged the Public Attendees not to get side tracked – the hearing concerned the meteorological tower - not a possible wind farm.
Shelly Nelkens, 11 North Main Street said that a plethora of information from the applicants had been given to the Board, and there has not been an opportunity to rebut that information. She wanted to know what can be done about that.
Chair Kendall said that everyone will get a chance to be heard.
Shelly Nelkens said that the applicants had already crossed the line.
Chair Kendall said that the Board would take in information and make the correct decision.
Mr. Moore announced that the meeting is being recorded.
Chair Kendall asked if any new information had been submitted.
Mr. Moore said that two letters had been emailed:
Peter Beblowski – in opposition – letter may be read online or at Town Hall
Francie Von Merten – in opposition – letter may be read online or at Town Hall
And new information had ben submitted by the Applicant – the information can be read online or at the Town Hall.
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.
Chair Kendall said that he had questions for the Applicants that he would like answered at some point during the meeting:
Height – what is the explanation for the height of the Met Tower
Criteria – what is the hardship – ZBA needs to be presented information that will show hardship
Chair Kendall asked if there were any abutters who would like to speak in favor of the proposal – there were none.
Ellen Druan, Keene Road Ms. Druan wanted to make three points:
1st – Jack Kenworthy called her (early in the Met Tower application process) to tell her of the proposed project
2nd – The next time she heard of the project, she read in the newspaper that her property was one of the potential sites. She had no knowledge of this and had given no permission.
3rd –Ms. Druan asked the question: “Shouldn’t the board have engineers available who are knowledgeable - to assist the board in understanding.”
Chair Kendall said that the Board members have been diligently working to acquire as much knowledge as they can to make the appropriate decision.
Ellen Druan – interrupted Chair Kendall and said that this is very dangerous.
Chair Kendall said that the Board receives information from the applicant and the attendees - the Board studies all the information and then will carefully make a decision.
Spencer Garrett – 63 Reed Carr Road – Mr. Garrett said that he was an abutter and that it may be selfish but he does not want a wind farm in his backyard. The Town of Antrim has a unique area in the Rural Conservation District and he wanted the area to remain that way.
Chair Kendall asked if any Non- abutters would like to speak in favor of the proposal – there were none. He asked if any non-abutters would like so speak who are not in favor of the proposal.
James Hankard, 322 Clinton Road Mr. Hankard asked the question of the applicant – “Do we have to watch the same presentation?”
The applicant assured the resident that there would be a different presentation.
James Hankard – He had wanted to present information concerning Mars Hill, Maine which explained in great detail the difficulties that had occurred there (in Mars Hill) because of a wind farm – but since the words wind farm were not to be discussed, he could not detail his information. He then asked if anyone will benefit from the wind farm?
Chair Kendall said that the meeting was not about the wind farm.
James Hankard said that if we (the public attendees) are to be subjected to a slide presentation (by the applicant), then he should be able to submit his information.
Chair Kendall said that it has been difficult from the start of the Met Tower proceedings. If it should come to a wind farm proposal, the information to the ZBA would be ten-fold to what is involved with a met tower. He repeated that there will be no wind farm info –anyone who mentions windfarm will have to stop. When the Public Hearing is closed, there will be no further discussion from the Attendees.
James Hankard submitted that everyone's land is unique and that the decision made should be in the best interest of the Town of Antrim.
Gordon Webber, 19 Old Hancock Road submitted 31 more signatures on a petition which was in favor of the Met Tower.
Loranne Block asked if the projector, which she felt was too bright, could be turned off.
Shelley Nelkens asked if the Board’s questions (from the beginning of the meeting) could be answered.
Kara Penny, 20 West Street asked if the tower had not been higher than 150 feet could the applicant just construct it? If the tower were another height – the applicants would not need a variance.
Shelley Nelkens – The ordinance is for met tower
Ellen Druan said “Over and over the same thing. The whole purpose is to have a wind tower – it is hypocritical not to acknowledge it. If the Board caves into met tower – it will cave in to a wind farm.”
Chair Kendall A Met Tower is a temporary construction. The Met Tower does not mean that a Wind Farm will be approved.
Ellen Druan said “face the facts, the Met Tower are for a Wind Farm”.
Marie Harriman asked, “Won’t there be a separate wind farm meeting?”
Sarah Gorman, 169 Keene Road spoke in opposition to the Met Tower and asked if she could speak without interruption. She continued with a statement that said that there is no good reason for the Town of Antrim to grant a variance to analyze wind data. She added that it is a commercial venture that should not be allowed. The land is an active greenway along a watershed. She said that property values will decrease by 50% if there is a wind farm; property values have decreased 30% because of the economy – so that would equal an 80% loss to property values. She demanded a revaluation of all properties in the area. Ms. Gorman’s letter and documentation can be read on the antrimnh.org website or at the Town Hall.
Steve Chelminski, 49 North Main Street wished to speak in favor of the Met Tower. He discussed the limited availability of fossil fuels and that we as a people should be forward thinking. The population should think about what fossil fuels have been used and what is still out there.
Janis Longgood,156 Salmon Brook Road spoke in opposition to the Met Tower. Although, she is in favor of a small wind energy system, if it should be suitably situated. She felt that points should be well taken from the Audubon Society, who has said that a wind farm would be best suited in the ocean and wind swept fields. Ms. Longgood stated that she had been a resident who had lived in Antrim for many years and she would not want to look out and see a wind farm. She felt that the Zoning Ordinance should protect a very special area and that the entire area (around the wind farm) would be negatively affected.
Marie Harriman, Butterfield Farm, 69 Clinton Road Ms. Harriman stated that she and her husband live at Butterfield Farm and that her family has lived in Antrim for over 200 years, and that she understood the concerns of some of the attendees, but as an engineer she had a different perspective. She said that there were specific reasons for the proposed property’s uniqueness, and that for the investors it would take 20 -25 years to pay off. She continued to say that Met Towers are not dangerous, and that with her degree in mechanical engineering she would be happy to explain the details of construction of a Met Tower to any of those concerned. She went on to say that from a sustainable energy standpoint – the opposing attendees should think of the children for whom there may be nothing to talk about in 50
Shelley Nelkens expressed concern for the structural integrity of the towers, the birds that are killed, and the deep tremendous, base sound which she imitated with a whoompf, whoompf, whoompf… She continued by saying that the (Tuttle Hill) area is a precious resource for the future, they will not change our dependency on fossil fuels, and reiterated the whoompf sound again.
Kevin Onella (Lempster) 10 of the 12 Lempster Mt. wind turbines are on his land Mr. Onella said that he had come to the meeting to answer questions. He had assisted in erecting two meteorological towers and no one realized that they were there.
Sarah Gorman questioned how much money he made.
James Hankard said that the group was starting to stray (from the met tower subject) and that they should be careful.
Chair Kendall had advised the ZBA to stay on the met tower subject. The Board continued to try to be courteous to all but that the whoompf sound is something the Board will not consider.
Kevin Onella said that Lempster’s Wind Farm is a resource for the town – that it is tax money to be had for the town, and that the attendees should keep an open mind.
Chair Kendall said that in respect to Eolian, he felt that they should have a chance to rebut. Chair Kendall repeated that he has tried to run a fair meeting.
Elsa Volker, 97 Old Pound Road questioned the spirit of the ordinance and what the Board will be considering and why isn’t the 150’ acknowledged?
Chair Kendall explained the ‘spirit of the ordinance” and that the spirit of ordinance will be discussed in the deliberation.
Loranne Carey- Block, 63 Loveren Mill Road asked if they would be able to speak later. Ms. Block had a letter in opposition to the Met Tower, which has been submitted to the Board (on the website and available to read at Town Hall). The letter (on the website and at Town Hall) addressed her concerns regarding the REPP (Renewable Energy Policy Project - available for viewing at Town Hall):
Ms. Block visited the town of Searsburg, Vt
Significance of Searsport, Vt, in a comparison to Antrim, NH. - does not compare - only 96 full time residents, many seasonal homes
She had visited Searsburg said that it does not compare to Antrim – not as many people and a lot of seasonal snow mobilers
No houses are visually impacted
Searsburg residents have received no money in taxes
Statistics are inaccurate and do not compare to Antrim
Mars Hill is a more appropriate comparison. Many members of Mars Hill have filed a suit against the town for devaluation of property and unsellable land.
REPP report is inaccurate
Tuttle Mt is a significant component of the unfragmented Monadnock Supersanctuary and the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Corridor as well as the abutting Stoddard Preserve.
What is the point of creating special places if exceptions will be allowed?
ZBA decision is not about wind power nor a temporary met tower but rather whether to allow a non-permitted industrial use in the rural conservation district.
Annie Law, 53 Farmstead Road read a letter (on website and at Town Hall) in opposition to the met tower. Listed are some of her points:
Antrim is a well-preserved environmental place
Possibility of Antrim being damaged by the construction of a Met Tower
She has experienced right in front of her home - moose with babies, black bears and their cubs, fisher cats, albino deer, white tail deer, hawks, falcons, blue herons…
She is in favor of renewable energy but only in open meadows where the wind flows freely
She does not want the environmental corridor destroyed
Feels that NH is the most beautiful state - and she has traveled extensively
Pleading with ZBA not to grant the variance - a much larger problem would be created for the future
Robert Cleland, 53 Farmstead Road read a letter (on website and at Town Hall) in opposition to the Met Tower. He stated some of the following points:
He is in favor of renewable energy in certain locations.
Appalachian Mountain Club sponsoring and educational seminar on October 6, 2009 entitled "Blowing in the Wind: Managing Renewable Energy Siting Conflicts"
More research needed
It would be a tragedy to ruin the environment in order to try to save the environment
Brendan Block, 63 Loveren Mill Road
Has lived in Antrim since 1986
Travelled to many different places, and enjoys returning to Antrim
Cedar Swamp – when Nature Conservancy building cedar swamp – helped to cut trails with a broken leg
He has grown up in the hills and would like to raise his family in the same place
Parents have wonderful tract of land that will someday be his
"For sake of everyone – please do not take my mountains away"
Richard Block, 63 Loveren Mill Road read a letter (on website and Town Hall) in opposition to the Met Tower, in which he responded to the letter that the applicants had submitted to the town. Mr. Block felt that the five criteria have not been met, and explained why he thought so in his letter.
Chair Kendall said that the maximum time for closing the meeting would be 9:30pm.
John Soininen (applicant) spoke in favor of the proposal with a letter (on the website and at Town Hall) which he felt summarized aspects of the application, clarified a few issues which seemed to be causing confusion and requested the clarification of several procedural matter.
Several Important Points:
1. Application is for an area variance not a use variance
2. It is within the landowner's rights
3. This variance will not set a precedent
4. The property in question is not conservation land
Mr. Soininen discussed the two-prong test for finding hardship in area variance. He further explained 1. the uniqueness of the property with a series of maps (of Antrim's topography, physical features, etc,) present by Mr. Jack Kenworthy; and the requirement for the 60-meter height of the met tower as a standard industry, because financial institutions will only accept data of a 60-meter tower. He stated that wind projects do not negatively impact property value. He read several letters from realtors and appraisers that acknowledged his statement. (on website and Town Hall)
Chair Kendall said that he felt the Board had reached a saturation point and that he wished to close the Public Hearing. The Public Attendees objected and Chair Kendall said speakers could speak for one minute.
Richard Block stated that he felt the biggest problem is that the applicants have based their application on a false assumption that a Met Tower is allowed in Antrim. The mistake is not the physical presence of the met tower - the problem is that" this specific pole would be a foreshadowing of a major wind farm, it is related to a wind installation and it will affect property values".
James Hankard concurred with Mr. Block. He didn't understand the argument and felt it was an injustice.
Shelly Nelkens had a question. Does this refer to small wind system.
Mr. Moore read the definition of a small wind energy system was quoted (Antrim Zoning Ordinance _ Article XIV-D)
Mr. Soininen said that the reason this issue has come up is because there is no variance which addresses the particular situation, and that as an applicant, they had been guided Article XIV-D as the most appropriate. They had not tried to be underhanded and sneak anything in – there was no clear definition for the height of a met tower in their circumstances.
Chair Kendall said that it is a dilemma and that the applicants had a right to ask for a variance from the zoning ordinance through the ZBA. He continued by saying that the Board would try to come to the best decision.
Mr. Jack Kenworthy substantiated that there is no diminution of property, that a met tower does not equal a wind farm and that a wind farm does not mean that property will be devalued.
Loranne Block asked if legal counsel told them to apply this way.
Mr. Moore explained the way in which the ordinance use was determined that there was nothing else. And confirmed to Ms. Block that opinions from two separate sources of legal council had concurred with this direction.
Loranne Block said that the Michael Ott land is in the Rural Conservation district and that he knew that when he bought it.
James Hankard said that there would be a drop in value of land.
Shelly Nelkens said that loggers had decimated the land.
Sarah Gorman said that a logging operation destroying property is a misnomer. The opened land creates an enormous amount of browse. Ms. Gorman took task with (the applicants) implying that they have looked at multiple sites and that they have never done and industrial complex. "They are willing to destroy our backyard for their venture. An industrial wind turbine complex is an enormous impact - roads, blasting, concrete, logging, etc.”
Chair Kendall said that the Board has received a wealth of information. the ZBA needed to start deliberation.
John Giffin moved to close the Public Hearing. Mr. Scales' seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved. The Board will start deliberation on a date certain of October 13, 2009.
Chair Kendall said that the public can attend but no comments will be allowed.
Approve September 15, 2009 minutes Mr. Scales moved to approve the minutes as amended. Mr. Haggett seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.
Mr. Moore said that there had been a request by Peter Burwen (on behalf of the applicants for rehearing) to correct the minutes of June 16, 2009 and September 8, 2009. The minutes were approved at subsequent meetings and cannot be altered; however, the board can consider the purported errors by noting them in tonight's minutes.
Mr. Haggett stated that he did not say what Mr. Burwen purported him to say.
After some discussion, it was determined that Mr. Moore's email (addressing both sets of minutes) to Mr. Burwen should become a part of these minutes:
Your concerns relative to meeting minutes from two Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings that took place, have been noted. Because these meeting minutes were reviewed by the members of the Board in draft form at the meetings that followed subsequent to the June 16th and September 8th meetings, respectively, and approved by vote of the vote of the Board, the minutes of record can not be changed or altered.
The Board can however consider to note in the meeting minutes of a current meeting, such as this evening, corrections to substantival fact, and/or corrections in dates, attendee records or stature, that may be brought forth by request. The Board can not however consider for the record any request for additions or suggested changes in statements, questions or conversations that were purported to have taken place in past meetings, once the meeting minutes have been approved by the Board.
So, that said, we can tonight, request that the Board consider noting in the meeting minutes of the current meeting:
02 “Statement of Valid evidence and Petition" has been incorrectly referred to as "A Petition of 82 Signees", in reference to the petition submitted as evidence with 82 signatures on September 8, 2009.
03 “Tony Koban listed as being present at this meeting, was not in attendance,” at the meeting of September 8, 2009.
The other two issues you raise are statements, and/or questions purported to have been stated on the meetings of June 16 and September 8 and cannot be entered or considered by the Board. Note, relative to meeting minutes, according to Right to Know Law, RSA 91-A:1: “Minutes must be kept at all public meetings and must be made available to the public upon request within 5 business days after the meeting. Minutes must include the names of members present, others participating, a brief summary of the subject matter discussed, and any final decisions of votes. "In other words, minutes are not transcripts of the proceedings, and it can not be expected that every detail, conversation and statement be recorded, as might be if a stenographer was on hand, such would be the case in a court of law. This matter
will be presented to the Board during the Business Meeting following the Public Hearing.
Regards, Peter, Peter Moore, Town Planner
Mr. Haggett moved that the minutes of tonight's meeting should have the above addition via Mr. Moore's email correspondence. Mr. Crafts seconded the motion, and the Board approved the addition.
Reminder - OEP Annual Fall Planning & Zoning Conference - October 17, 2009
Any other business: None
At 9:15 pm, Mr. Scales moved to adjourn the Public Meeting. It was seconded by Mr.Giffin, and approved.
Diane M. Chauncey
Planning Assistant, On Behalf of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment