Article

196-foot wind-test tower gets approval; Opponents vow appeal

Following numerous and heated public hearings, the zoning board approved a height variance for a meteorological tower on Tuttle Hill after just more than an hour of deliberation. Chairman John Kendall was the sole negative vote on the variance, which approved the construction of a 196-foot met tower on ridgetop property owned by resident Michael Ott. The decision will be effective at the end of the 30-day appeals period, but resident Richard Block has no intention of letting that happen. "It will be appealed, on a number of levels," said Block after the meeting.

ANTRIM -- Following numerous and heated public hearings, the zoning board approved a height variance for a meteorological tower on Tuttle Hill after just more than an hour of deliberation.

Chairman John Kendall was the sole negative vote on the variance, which approved the construction of a 196-foot met tower on ridgetop property owned by resident Michael Ott.

The decision will be effective at the end of the 30-day appeals period, but resident Richard Block has no intention of letting that happen.

"It will be appealed, on a number of levels," said Block after the meeting.

"If that's the way they want to take it, I think we'll win in court," said Jack Kenworthy, CEO of Eolian Renewables, the parent company of applicant Antrim Wind Energy LLC.

"It's a waste of taxpayers' time and money," said Drew Kenworthy from Eolian Renewables.

"That's his opinion" said Block, "But I have it on very good authority that there is no way this will hold up."

Before the case could go to court, the zoning board will first have to decide whether to grant a rehearing. If they grant a rehearing and then deny the application, Antrim Wind Energy could appeal to Superior... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ANTRIM -- Following numerous and heated public hearings, the zoning board approved a height variance for a meteorological tower on Tuttle Hill after just more than an hour of deliberation.

Chairman John Kendall was the sole negative vote on the variance, which approved the construction of a 196-foot met tower on ridgetop property owned by resident Michael Ott.

The decision will be effective at the end of the 30-day appeals period, but resident Richard Block has no intention of letting that happen.

"It will be appealed, on a number of levels," said Block after the meeting.

"If that's the way they want to take it, I think we'll win in court," said Jack Kenworthy, CEO of Eolian Renewables, the parent company of applicant Antrim Wind Energy LLC.

"It's a waste of taxpayers' time and money," said Drew Kenworthy from Eolian Renewables.

"That's his opinion" said Block, "But I have it on very good authority that there is no way this will hold up."

Before the case could go to court, the zoning board will first have to decide whether to grant a rehearing. If they grant a rehearing and then deny the application, Antrim Wind Energy could appeal to Superior Court. If they deny a rehearing, or grant a rehearing and uphold their initial decision, opponents could appeal to Superior Court.

Kenworthy said the tower would take four to five days to erect and would ideally be operational by the end of November.

In considering whether to approve the height variance, Kendall was concerned the application might have been better designed as a use variance than an area variance. Unlike area variances, use variances more frequently concern controversial issues. They take into account abstract notions such as a neighborhood's character as opposed to strictly measurement-based concerns like height.

"My frustration is that we've listened to all these hearings, we've done the site walk, and much of what we've listened to wasn't relevant," said Kendall.

Kendall and board members considered that the application had been prepared with input from the Planning Board, the town's legal counsel and advice from the Local Government Center. Still, Kendall suggested continuing deliberation until a final clarification could be solicited from town counsel.

"I feel like this got skipped over," said Kendall of the distinction between a use and area variance. "It eliminates a lot of the things we should be looking at. ...Looking at it as just a height variance, it's hard to vote against it."

Board member Ron Haggett identified a section of the ordinance specifying height-dependent uses. Since a met tower is an approved use in the proposed district, and an effective met tower is height-dependent, to oppose the variance would be a hardship on the applicant, said Haggett. In addition, board members read the section of the small wind systems ordinance stating, "under no situation shall the tower height exceed 150 feet." Board vice-chairman John Giffin said the language referred specifically to permanent tower structures, not temporary meteorological towers.

"If you want to read it that way, there's no height limit on a met tower whatsoever," said Giffin.

The board agreed there would be no significant impact on surrounding property values. Kendall said he could appreciate the met tower would cause some uncertainty in nearby real estate transactions, but said such influences are not quantifiable. Having attempted to minimize discussion of a potential industrial wind farm in the area during public hearings on the met tower, the board briefly evaluated what approval of the height variance might mean for any such future proposal.

"If you deny this, what did you do? You preempted the second phase," said Haggett. "[if you approve it] You may be talking five-six years plus and who knows what could happen?"

Haggett said the state may redefine such projects as utilities and take much of the jurisdiction for wind projects away from the towns and place it in the legislature.

Kendall was again torn on the issue of whether granting the variance and edging closer to an industrial wind farm would be in the public interest.

"The public seems to be somewhat split," said Kendall. "It seems to be an important part of where we're headed in decades to come. On the other hand, it's about protecting New Hampshire's views."


Source: http://www.ledgertranscript...

OCT 15 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22677-196-foot-wind-test-tower-gets-approval-opponents-vow-appeal
back to top