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Zoning Board of Adjustment Minutes 5/10/2011

May 10, 2011 Meeting
Variance #2011-04ZBA Antrim Wind Energy LLC

Members & Staff Present:     
 Diane Chauncey (Staff)     Doug Crafts (Member)        John Giffin (Member)            
Ron Haggett (Member)       John Kendall (Chair) Frank Scales (Member)
Members & Staff Absent:         Ray Ledgerwood (Alternate)    
Public Attendees:
Richard Uchida          Joshua Pantesco Jack Kenworthy  John Soinien
James Hankard           Sam Apkarian            Rob Michaelson  Unknown lady
Michael Pon                     Gordon Webber   Clark Craig             Bob Cleland             
Shelley Nelkens         Doug Stone              Loranne Block           Margaret Warner
Richard Block                   Martha Pinello          Peter Beblowski Mark Schaefer
Brenda Schaefer         Bob Bernstein           Janis Longgood  Elsa Voelcker

7:00 PM –Review Session:

  • Review Minutes of May 3, 2011
  • Review Public Hearing materials
  • Appoint alternates to sit for absent members – not necessary – Ms. Nelkens chose to sit in the audience so that she could comment and ask questions

7:15 Public Meeting Continued Meeting from May 3, 2011

Case # 2011 -04ZBA concerning a request by Antrim Wind Energy, LLC for a variance pursuant to Article IX B. (Use) and Article IX C. 8 (Height) of the Town of Antrim Zoning Ordinance, to construct and operate a temporary meteorological tower at 354 Keene Road, Antrim, NH (Map212, Lot 30) in the Rural Conservation District.

Chair Kendall opened the meeting at 7:18pm. He reviewed the meeting procedure.

Public Hearing:

Abutters in favor:  None

Abutters in opposition:

Mr. Craig
He stated that he was opposed to the Met Tower and any wind tower. He wanted to go on record that he was against and listed reasons such as noise, sound, aesthetics.

Non-abutters in favor:

Mr. Webber
He stated that he was in favor of the Met Tower. He said that it was a temporary structure. It would go up and go down with no impacts. He encouraged the ZBA to approve the proposed variance.

Ms. Warner
She said she had listened to many of the meetings and that she  would  like go on record as being in favor of the met tower. Its only function was to give useful information for the data necessary.  The Environmental situation has become dire and there was the need to explore all sources. The met tower has virtually no environmental impact and will gather potential information for the future.

Non-abutters opposed:

Mr. Hankard
He stated that he would like the parameters defined: would he be able to speak about a potential wind farm?

Chair Kendall said that he had said wind farm could be a part of the Public Hearing.

Mr. Hankard spoke concerning articles from various news articles which were in opposition to the Wind Farm. [The information was taken from news articles and internet sites]. He summarized that the Board should not rush to judgment. As an elected Board, he stated that they should do what the residents want them to do – that is what they were elected for. He suggested a straw poll at this time.
Ms. Longgood
She stated (from a prepared letter addressed to the ZBA) that she had concerns about the Met Tower that has been standing for eighteen months. She was concerned about hearing the same application twice. She said that there were numerous allegations that were not true:
  • Variance would save money – improper reason – backroom discussions should not happen
  • Patchwork of regulations is distressing and manipulative at best
  • Showed leased land and where she lives
  • Property  values – contradicting  - wants expert opinions – why having an expedited meeting
  • Citizens do not have legal representation
  • Strike all records – unscientific
  • RCD land – 20 year covenants
  • Negative impact on the quality of her life – just by the met tower’s presence
  • As a concerned citizen  more time was needed
Ms. Voelcker  
She stated [passionately] the following:
  • Her house will be within 1.5 mile of 1 or 2 turbines
  • She has lived in her home for 28 years – moved for rural nature
  • Helped create parts of conservation district – Perkins Farm, Cedar swamp, Conservancy
  • Huge corridor for wildlife to move
  • Should not have an industrial wind farm
  • Height of turbines
  • Does not think it is fair
  • The developers should buy her out – she has stood and listened to the Lempster Wind turbines – sounded like a jet plane that will not go away   
  • She will need to put house on market
  • Her real estate is her retirement
Ms. Nelkens
  • Must do something about renewable energy        
  • Wind towers use energy when not moving
  • Conservation – is the only way to solve the world’s issues.
  • Reading from a recently acquired ZBA handout, she opined on the Criteria that must be satisfied and that she did not feel that AWE had received the information,
  • Believed that the process was being rushed
Mr. Apkarian
        He stated that he was against the wind farm.  There were many reasons. He said that the poll done by American Research was not valid because not enough people received the survey. He said that the Selectmen poll was not valid because the poll was not done properly.
Other items addressed by Mr. Apkarian:
  • The 10-mile radius spread out the data – and the more spread out, the better it would look
  • He told of the dizziness problems that his sister had living near  a wind farm
  • The perception that a wind farm is a sustainable renewable green energy is not correct
  • The wind turbines would sit on a massive concrete pad
  • Massive trucks would be needed to construct the project
  • Wildlife would be destroyed
  • Massive roads would be built
  • Environmental impacts - The steel process was explained
  • Taxpayer money would be used for tax incentives for the wind farm developers
  • He did not want to live next to the “whoomph” sound that the wind turbines would create
  • He listed the wildlife that have come to his backyard and their importance – the wind turbines could kill them
  • The road that he is currently living on is not well maintained and he has minimal services from the town
  • His life would be destroyed if the wind farm is constructed
  • There would be no tax relief
  • He said that he could not put up a megaphone blasting jingle bells 24/7, but the wind turbines would be creating noise 24/7
In summary, Mr. Apkarian urged the ZBA to think about family and neighborhoods in their beautiful part of town.

Mr. Bernstein
        He had a Power Point presentation but the projector was not set up. He read from his presentation. Some of the points that he made are as follows:
  • He was a supporter of renewable energy
  • He had spent 35 years in community economic development
  • He had been to five meetings and much floor time had been given to the applicant’s presentation
  • Questioned the validity of the polls
  • The public does not know very much about Antrim Wind Energy
  • Questioned the amount of money that Lempster has received
  • Questioned whether or not there was an acceptable measure of risk
  • Questioned whether the project served the public
  • Discussed property values and empirical evidence
  • Read definitions of ‘rural’ and ‘conservation’ – in relation to Rural Conservation District
  • In 1995, he had invested his property in the RCD, where a cell tower was to be erected
  • Add up the loss of value to the town in the properties that would be affected
Mr. Cleland
        He read from a prepared letter that he asked to be submitted as part of the record:

  • Also representing Annie Law
  • Their rights have been denied and ignored
  • He listed numerous reasons
  • The public had been given a short time to respond – giving AWE the upper hand
  • Not a benefit to Antrim  residents – only for a few people to line their pockets
  • Deny from reapplying – remove it immediately
Mr. Schaefer
        He stated that he was a direct abutter to the leased property and that he was in opposition to the variance request. Some of his reasons:
  • Described the RCD and why he lived there
  • The people living in the RCD were attracted to the area for its many attributes
  • He said that he had been told that he would get used to the sound of the turbines, but he moved to the RCD for the quiet
  • He was totally against the met tower
  • He had paid many thousands in taxes
  • His retirement would be lost
  • Without federal incentives to the wind farm, the project would not be feasible
  • The land belongs to the land owners – it does not belong to AWE
  • He discussed the aesthetics from 100s of mile around the wind farm
He summarized by saying that it would be unfathomable to throw all of this away.

Mr. Beblowski
He read from a prepared letter that he wished to become a part of the record. He said that he was generally in favor of wind generated power but that not all sites are appropriated for meteorological tower sitting or industrial wind power generation. He had four topics to address:

  • Concern that the ZBA has accepted an application with a pr-prescribed outcome – the mere appearance of a pre-prescribed outcome or reason for hearing this case taints the impartiality of the Board.
  • Re-hearing this height variance is contrary to the NH court rulings unless there are substantial changes which warrant a re-hearing.
  • Definition of the RCD and the location of the project which abuts 2000 acre Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, and multiple other areas of natural importance. Although the Met tower may not greatly violate the purpose of the zone, but as it is integrally linked with the associated industrial scale wind far, it most certainly has to be considered as violating the zone.
  • “Hardship for the applicant; the applicant chose this location for business reasons. This does not equal a hardship, perhaps a gamble, but not a hardship.
For the above reasons, Mr. Beblowski urged the ZBA to deny the application for the reasons stated above.

Mr. Willeke

He stated that he was in favor of granting the variance for the height and use of a temporary structure in order to test for something that may or may not be an allowed use. He continued that land use and regulations change over time.  The reasonable thing to do would be  to allow the testing and collection  of the data

Ms. Allen
Ms. Allen’s letter was read by the Secretary. She stated that her letter should be entered into the record of this case. Her arguments spoke to two sections of the presentation made by Antrim Wind Energy LLC at the public hearing on May 3, 2011. The following lists some of the letter’s points:
  • Criteria #2 [The variance is consistent with the spirit of the ordinance.e]
“AWE fails to mention how its project complies with the spirit of the ordinance…Industrial uses are permitted in other zoning districts in Antrim. They are no permitted in the RCD, and it is to this issue that the ZBA must direct its attention.”
  • Criteria #5 [Literal enforcement of the ordinance results in unnecessary hardship.]
“The lots being leased by AWE are hardly unique to the RCD, or for that matter to this re3gion of NH. There is nothing unique in these parcels or their situation that makes them usable only for commercial wind energy facilities.[Several Court cases were noted – Garrison v. Henniker and Harrington v. Town of Warner]. The applicant has not offered examples of uniqueness or hardship that meet these tests, and thus this condition for a variance has not been demonstrated.”

Mr. Hankard
He asked the ZBA if any of them had spent time in Lempster. He said that he felt the ZBA was not as informed as they should be. The whoomph sound will drive people out of their homes. He asked the Board to take a poll. He stated that powerful information had been given this evening and that the Board should not vote this evening.
Ms. Block
Ms. Block said that she had four points she would like to make:

  • The ZBA should think independently
  • The height information in Mr. Kenworthy’s presentation was not accurate.
  • The AWE poll had stated that 77% were in favor of wind energy which would be 400 or 500 people and since Antrim has 2600 people, she stated that it meant  only 20% of the Antrim voters were in favor of wind energy.
  • Property Values – she had a report for the ZBA – an appraiser from Illinois had testified before the SEC in the Groton case. She said it was real information from a real appraiser who said that it was not a zero impact. She read a few highlights concerning the 2-mile impact, noise and sleep disturbance, and the value loss percentage. Mr. Kenworthy’s rebuttal to the Mars Hill, ME no impact on sales should not be used as factual information.
  • She concurred with Ms. Allen that there should not be industrial development in the RCD. The Master Plan spoke to the character of the town and the Open Space Committee said that the town’s people appreciated the rural quality of the land.
  • The property rights of all residents are important
  • All the letter given to the Chair are to become part of the record.
Chair Kendall asked for any further information.

Mr. Block
He stated that the procedure was incorrect. He said that this was a subsequent application for the same procedure, that there was not a single bit of difference, and that a change in law is not a change in project.

Secondly, he said that the ZBA should have considered regional impact. He stated that he believed that it had regional impact and that should have been addressed.

Mr. Apkarian
He said that if the wind farm was allowed, a fence would be placed around it, and then the land would be off limits. He also commended the people that had spoken.

Ms. Nelkens
Ms. Nelkens said that to give permission to the Met Tower will reduce property values.

Mr. Hagget moved to continue the Public Hearing to May 17 at 7pm. Mr. Giffin seconded. All agreed by voice vote.
Public Hearing will remain open. Rebuttal will occur.
Business Meeting:       

  • Approve Meeting Minutes of May 3, 2011—Mr. Haggett moved to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Scales seconded. All approved by a voice vote.
  • Review by-laws for necessary changes – two changes should be made – 2.1 and 7
  • Town Administrator concerning Town Planner position

  • New England Wind Energy Education Project Conference/Workshop Tues. June 7th (see flyer)
  • Annual Spring Planning & Zoning Conference – Saturday, June 11th – Radisson, Manchester
At 10pm, Mr. Haggett moved to continue the meeting to May 10, 2011. Mr. Scales seconded, and all approved.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Chauncey, On Behalf of the Antrim Zoning Board of Adjustment

Town of Antrim, NH P.O. Box 517, 66 Main Street Antrim, NH 03440
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