The Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously at their May 15 meeting to approve a request by Bruce Jacobson, owner of Photo Panels on Worcester Road, to erect a wind test tower on land he owns behind the Princeton Municipal Light Department and Mountain Barn Restaurant.
Jacobson proposes to erect a 130-foot meteorological test tower to measure wind speed. The tower would stand for a maximum of two years. Once testing has been completed, the tower will be removed.
“The scientific data would be used to determine the feasibility of a wind tower and the size of a wind tower,” said Jacobson.
A wind turbine is allowed under the zoning bylaw and the height regulations don’t apply to wind towers, said Jacobson. The test tower is a precursor to designing and building a wind turbine and data collection is necessary for the appropriate size, he said.
If the wind speed is adequate and a wind turbine is erected, Jacobson said, the power generated would be sold to the town. “It would all go back into the grid,” he said.
“We’re fully in support,” said William Zottoli, who with his wife, Peggy, owns the Mountain Barn Restaurant. “We think it’s a good idea. We have no objections at all.”
Paul Caneen of Sam Cobb Lane objected to the test towers. He said he will be able to see both the wind tower and telecommunications tower behind Photo Panels.
“I’m going to be 1,300 feet from his tower. Now I see the eyesore of the tower behind Photo Panels. When the leaves are gone, both will be visible from my neighborhood,” he said.
Richard Chase of Stagecoach Road said he doesn’t have an issue with the tower. “But is the ultimate use in harmony with the surrounding area?” he asked. “It depends on what he proposes for a wind tower.”
“This discussion only deals with the test tower,” said ZBA member Walter Kuklinski who was acting as chairman in the absence of John Puricelli. “It has no bearing on the subsequent process between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board for a wind tower.”
“I’d be looking at it [test tower] across the street from where I live on Worcester Road,” said Kenneth Knowles. “I don’t have any objection. With the energy crises we have right now we need more alternate sources of energy.”
Brooks Station Road resident Carl Lapoint asked why the issue was before the ZBA. “What regulation is being violated so it has to be appealed?”
Jacobson said he appeared before the ZBA at the suggestion of the building inspector.
Lapoint asked if Jacobson planned to put up a windmill to provide power for Photo Panels.
“No. The power would go into the town grid,” said Jacobson.
“I feel anything the Jacobsons do is in good order for the town,” said Lapoint. “Everything they’ve ever done has been in the best interest of the town, so I say go for it.”
“The idea is very viable because it’s very windy there,” said Zottoli. “A fan on an old, rusty tractor on the property is always turning because of the wind.”
ZBA member Gary Macleod asked how Jacobson determined the location of the test tower.
“Basically, it’s on the top of the hill,” said Jacobson. “If it fell, it would be on my property. There’s an open view up there.” He recently had the area cleared to open up the view from the Mountain Barn.
The professionals who will erect the tower were in agreement about the location, said Jacobson.
The board has received a letter from Light Department Manager Jonathan Fitch stating that PMLD would be interested in purchasing the energy from Jacobson’s proposed wind turbine project.
By Phyllis Booth
29 May 2008