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Antrim zoning amendments removed from town warrant

ANTRIM – Eight zoning amendments, including two dealing with wind energy development, will be left off March’s town meeting ballot because of a technicality.

Town Planner Peter Moore posted a notice alerting the public to a Feb. 1 hearing on the amendments. The notice listed the time, place and purpose of the hearing.

But some residents charged the notice did not include enough details about the amendments, as required by state law.

“These procedural flaws on the part of the planning board are fatal to the amendments,” attorney Michael Donovan, who represents Antrim residents Richard and Loranne Block, wrote in a letter to Moore, the town planning board and selectmen.

“Should the amendments remain on the ballot and be enacted they would clearly be illegal and invalid.”

The state law on what must be included in hearing notices is ambiguous, Moore said.

“There are a lot of chances for procedural defects, and we were caught on one,” he said.

The planning board voted Feb. 10 to remove the amendments from the ballot.

One of the amendments would make wind energy a permitted use in highway business and rural conservation districts. That would include Tuttle Hill, where Portsmouth-based Eolian Renewable Energy is proposing installing up to 10 turbines.

Another amendment would define wind energy development to clarify which projects would qualify under the other amendment.

The Blocks are suing the town to prevent the Tuttle Hill project from going through. Eolian is also suing the town to see that it does.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, the planning board voted to hold a public hearing to review the amendments and decide whether to ask selectmen to schedule a special vote on them after March’s town meeting.

A date for that hearing has not been set.

A delayed vote on the amendments wouldn’t necessarily affect the Tuttle Hill project. Rather, the amendments were proposed by the planning board to clarify the town’s rules on wind energy development given the current debate surrounding that project.