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Parties due back in court over wind turbine

Representatives for Rob Burke and the township are due back in federal court on April 18 regarding Burke’s application to construct a wind turbine at his business, Wayne Auto Spa.

The Planning Board is scheduled to vote Monday on a resolution amending Burke’s application.

The matter has dragged on for years after Burke applied to construct a turbine with 6-foot long blades on it in 2007. The turbine would generate power for Wayne Auto Spa. Several solar panels are operating on the property

The Planning Board denied Burke’s application in October of 2008 citing a lack of expert testimony and concerns about safety and noise.

State Superior Court Judge Donald Volkert overturned the denial in July 2010. In his decision, Volkert said that the board improperly denied the application due to the concerns.

“The board should have granted minor site plan approval and used its authority to place reasonable conditions to mitigate any noise or safety impacts,” Volkert said in his ruling. “The board did not have the authority to enforce noise or safety ordinances. That is the responsibility of administrative departments.”

The Planning Board unanimously approved Burke’s long-standing application at a meeting in November 2011. The approval is part of a settlement agreement with the town to have the 50-foot tall turbine installed on the property.

The council must approve the agreement before the turbine can be installed. According to Burke, the council has not approved the agreement.

Burke said that the case is not settled and “has no idea when” it will be.

Matthew Giacobbe, the town’s general counsel, could not be reached for comment.

As part of the agreement, the turbine will not have blades on it. Instead, a bladeless version, which is designed to be much quieter than ones with blades, will be installed.

Burke is also looking to recoup between $250,000 and $300,000 in legal fees he claims he is owed.

Burke said he has never met with township officials regarding the application.

The council approved an ordinance in December 2009 permitting wind turbines to be installed in industrial areas in the township but not at the Wayne Auto Spa.