The owner of a Kidder Township bed-and-breakfast who hoped to erect a 115-foot-tall wind turbine along Route 534 was denied variances for its construction at a zoning hearing Tuesday.
David Pfeil, who has owned and lived at the Inn at Hickory Run for about three years, was seeking two variances from the township’s Zoning Hearing Board – one to allow construction of the windmill in a residential zone and one to allow it to exceed the maximum township height limit of 35 feet.
During the hearing’s first hour, Pfeil testified before the board and was questioned by attorney Gregory Mousseau, who represents Timothy and Eileen Ryan of Weatherly. The Ryans, who own property adjacent to Pfeil’s, were two of six residents who attended the hearing to oppose the windmill.
After objecting to several documents Pfeil submitted to the board as exhibits – including manufacturer’s diagrams of the proposed windmill – Mousseau attempted to prove that Pfeil could not meet the five criteria required for variances to be issued.
He has ”no grounds to qualify for a variance,” Mousseau said during one of two recesses taken by the board. ”The property is developable, it has a building on it, and by his own testimony, he can operate his business without [the windmill].”
When asked for an explanation for the variance requests, Pfeil said the turbine would supply about two-thirds of the energy usage required by the inn on its busiest days. And, on days when the facility is not busy, Pfeil said the windmill may produce more electricity than the building needs, meaning it can then be channeled back into the PPL grid.
Pfeil said he has also been awarded a matching energy harvest grant from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which would cover about half of the $65,000 cost of the project.
Pfeil initially applied for permission to build the windmill in May 2007. While Pfeil said most of his neighbors were in favor of the plan, a couple of them opposed it, so he withdrew the application. After learning he was approved for the grant, he reapplied.
”If the government sees fit to help me with the erection of this turbine, I think it’s a value to me and to the environment,” Pfeil said.
”He’s attempting to save on his electric bill by taking money from the state, which essentially is our money,” Mousseau said. ”The fact that he went out and obtained a grant on false assertions is not grounds to qualify for a variance.”
Mousseau referred to Pfeil’s grant application, on which Pfeil indicated that his project was in compliance with all municipal zoning ordinances, but Pfeil said DEP was made aware of the fact that variances are needed.
Late Tuesday, zoners denied the requests because Pfeil could not prove a hardship.
Pfeil said he plans to appeal the decision.
Ashley Kosciolek is a freelance writer.
9 April 2008