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Residents challenge meteorological tower decision

A group of Jefferson Township residents have filed an appeal against the township zoning appeals board’s decision to allow a meteorological tower on the property of Ralph and Rick Amerine.

The board of zoning appeals decided the issue April 30, but cited no clear reason why they believed Mr. Amerine and his representative, Roger Brown, should be allowed to construct the wind measurement towers.

The appeal, however, states no specific reason the residents believe the board acted incorrectly.

It states that the decision was contrary to the township’s zoning resolution and Ohio law and that it was “not supported by reliable, probative or substantial evidence.”

Joe Hughes, who filed the document Wednesday, and his wife Linda said Thursday they had no comment at this point on what types of violations they are considering. Mr. and Mrs. Hughes are among nine residents listed as appealing the decision.

Mr. Brown, who has also asked to have a tower built on his property, had his request delayed two weeks because many of the same residents who filed the appeal said more people around Mr. Brown’s property should be notified. The hearing on that issue was scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, but BZA members this morning were discussing whether to cancel that hearing because of the legal challenge.

Mr. Brown said he believes he demonstrated a hardship, a term in zoning law that justifies the need for a variance, because several other towers that exceed the township’s 35-foot height maximum have been installed under the township’s zoning ordinance.

“I only needed to prove one of the four issues they have in the resolution,” Mr. Brown said. “I think I adequately proved that the hardship is that we deserve the same opportunity for towers that everyone else has. How can other people put structures up over 35 feet and not me?”

He referred to towers used by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Logan County Sheriff’s Office and Honda.

The meteorology towers are 197-foot-tall structures that have anemometers and other instruments to collect data on wind speed, direction, duration and other conditions. The data would help wind development company Babcock and Brown decide where and what types of turbines they would build if they are to develop a project in Jefferson Township.

The variance granted to the Amerines would require that the tower be removed after 18 months in operation.

By Reuben Mees
Examiner Staff Writer

The Bellefontaine Examiner

9 May 2008