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Turbine Applicant to Receive $220K From Settlement

Rob Burke, owner of Wayne Auto Spa, expects to install wind turbine in the spring.

Rob Burke will receive $220,000 as part of a settlement agreement with the township to construct a wind turbine at his business, Wayne Auto Spa.

Federal District Court Judge Joseph Dixon unsealed the terms of the settlement Friday.

“The litigation was resolved to my satisfaction,” Burke said.

Burke applied to construct a turbine on the property in 2007. The Planning Board denied the application in 2008 citing a lack of expert testimony and safety and noise concerns. The matter dragged on in court for years.

State Superior Court Judge Donald Volkert overturned the Planning Board’s denial in July 2010. Volkert stated in his decision that the board improperly denied the application.

The town approved the settlement agreement in July.

The $220,000 will be paid from the New Jersey Intergovernmental Insurance Fund, a public program municipalities pay into to cover professional liability policies and general liabilities, among other things.

Mayor Chris Vergano and town attorney Matthew Giacobbe did not respond to requests for comment.

The 50-foot-tall turbine will not have blades, although Burke applied for one with 6-foot long blades on it. 

Burke expects to receive the turbine in January and install it in the spring.

The turbine will be the latest in sustainable and clean energy equipment on the property. Solar panels and a water recycling system already exist. Burke also grows vegetables and keeps chicken hens on the property in a fenced off garden and pen.

Burke gives away vegetables and eggs but accepts donations; he gives the money to Pines Lake Elementary School and to Packanck Community Church, among other local organizations.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Big Bird October 11, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Mr. Burke you deserve to peacefully move forward with your turbine. You are a credit to the community. Most of us do not have the courage or the resources to fight back. You showed your community that you can fight City Hall! I wish we could get you to move to Wayne and hold public office. Hopefully as a Republican! Whatever your affiliation is the People of Wayne admire you.
Rob Burke October 11, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Thanks for your kind words. I do appreciate all the support from everyone.
Flood Plain October 11, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Local politicians: Be prepared for a plethora of litigation for all stupid decisions you make that serve your political hack cronies. The public is fed up with the 'elitist" bureaucracy in Wayne. You've been warned!
Justice October 11, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Congrats Rob, It was a long fight and I, for one, am glad you persisted and won.
Flood Plain Jane October 11, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Thank you Mr. Mayor, Mr. Assemblyman, Mr. Town Layer, Mr. Town Planner (The Good Old Boys) for costing us hard working, law abiding citizens of the town and district you claim to represent, $220,000. Way to Go - Next Election, hopefully we will be able to tell you in another way how much your incompetence is appreciated.
Nose Wayne October 11, 2012 at 08:28 PM
When are the "public officials" going to start and do the right thing in this town ? Spending thousands of hard earned taxpayer money on lawyers and litigation seems to be the "norm" around here lately. I think maybe this town needs "CHANGE" !!!
Flood Plain Jane October 11, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Sorry, Not Town Layer, I meant Town Lawyer
Rob Burke October 11, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Thanks for all your support Justice...I still wished you'd sign your name to your posts (as you know, one of my mantras applicable to everyone...)
Justice October 11, 2012 at 09:02 PM
One day, one day I will come out of my "broom" closet. Rob, I am extremely happy for you.
Nose Wayne October 11, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Congratulations Rob,and you will NOSE who I really am.
Pad October 11, 2012 at 10:53 PM
How could the Mayor comment or do anything when he is alway's doing what he does best, cutting ribbons of course. He is absolutely the worse Mayor I have ever seen in my life. A real do-nothing. Unless of course he is making a commercial for Optimum or ribbon cutting. He should either be a Mayor or resign. When the residents of Wayne have ever needed him like during the floods he is nowhere to be found. He needs to go. Remember this when he is up for election. Do yourself and the Township a favor and get rid of him.
Nose Wayne October 11, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Pad, Why don't you run ?
Pad October 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM
If I had the time I would but I just wouldn't fit into the "Good Ole Boy Club" very well. I am to much of an idealistic and caring person. If I did run my number one concern would be the taxpayers and this Township. Not my own personal agenda and taking care of my buddies. This town is overspending and overregulating itself to death. They are strangling the taxpayers and also any corporations or buisness enterpises that want to relocate to Wayne. They are as unfriendly as any Township can be. We have a taxpaying ratable coming to Hamburg Tnpk. and all the Mayor can comment about is that he doesn't like the color of the protective ballisters in front of the building. Is he for real.
Nose Wayne October 12, 2012 at 01:19 AM
That's the "Good Ole Boy" for ya.
Pad October 12, 2012 at 01:41 AM
While I don't personally care for Mr. Burke I am glad he taught this town a lesson. Many times during this legal battle the Township was advised to settle. But no, they just kept stalling and continued the battle and all it did in the end was cost the taxpayers a huge sum of money. Who really care's because as far as they are concerned it's only "taxpayers money". So I have to say "congratulations Mr. Burke" on your win against these bozo's at city hall. The planning board and this township put people thru hell whenever they want to do something on their own over taxed property in this town. That is unless you know someone then its a breeze. Everyone I have ever met who has had to deal with this town for permits, variances etc say it's the worse town to deal with. You ever wonder why towns North of us are doing so well with attracting new ratables? All you have to do is stop by city hall and ask to do something in town and you are hit with permits, fee's inspections, planning board etc etc. People and buisnesses are fleeing Wayne. And while Wayne burns those downtown are playing their fiddle's.
Al Scala October 12, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I would be curious to know how much the Township paid to their own attorneys? That is of course on top of the $220,000 already paid!
Nose Wayne October 12, 2012 at 03:15 AM
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ THAT IS ALL !!!!!!!
Justice October 12, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Al, an OPRA request will give you that answer.
Dax October 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Dear Rob Burke, I have followed your case since beginning. First of all let me command you on your patients and commitment to what you believe in. Most of us don't have that quality among us. My heartiest congratulation on your resolution to the issue. Your case a inspiration to take upon Wayne Township board and town officials who believes that they have power over Citizen of Wayne who's tax-money keeps them in their position. There are few selected seat holder in both the broads and some who holds position in township officials crosses there lines time to time. Hopefully one day all Town resident can create an alliance or group fight back against these people and try to take them to court just like you did to show them where they belong. I am long time waiting for a right moment to Legally sued town and few town officials for there actions against few property i own in town.
Victor Alfieri October 12, 2012 at 03:29 PM
This is absolutely disgusting. 5 years and $220,000+ of tax dollars for what? Nothing! A small compromise that could have been settled over a pot of coffee. Instead, our town officials decided their best course of action was to harass a local business owner and BREAK THE LAW. And who foots the bill for these irresponsible acts? We do, the Wayne residents. They mistakenly assumed Mr. Burke would not have the resources to fight the fight. Because they have all the resources they need. OUR TAX DOLLARS. I was asked to build a garden at Wayne Hills and the material cost is $641.00 and the students have to practically pan handle to raise the money and our town officials blew $220,000 dollars on a fight they were never going to win. I was harassed for 3 years and my rights were trampled on over raising 3 chicken hens, because our council members did not want to pick up the law and read it. Instead, they chose to waste our tax dollars fighting another fight they were never going to win, ultimately BREAKING THE LAW and hoping I would go away. Surprise surprise….
Victor Alfieri October 12, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I asked my councilman Mr. Scuralli over 2 months ago to find out exactly how much tax dollars was wasted during the chicken issue and I’m still waiting for an answer. Any day now Mr. Scuralli. This practice of fighting health and sustainability needs to stop immediately and our town officials need to be held accountable or this waste will continue. Score Card: $50,000 paid to Mr. Burke OPRA request (town broke the law) $220,000 settlement (town broke the law) $30,000 chicken debate estimate waiting for number. (town broke the law) Plus, town cost in increase insurance premiums on going… As far as I’m concerned the town council owes their residents $300,000 in local health and sustainability efforts.
Steven Rose October 12, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Rob Congrats and well deserved and hard earned. It should never have come down to this And again these numbers don't include the leagl costs. Years in court and $100's an hour. Again Rob.. Congrats..can't wait to see it completed.
Rob Burke October 12, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Hey Steve! Thanks for your post. Stop by sometime soon so we can catch up. Hope everything is good in your world.
Pad October 12, 2012 at 07:27 PM
This Town and its regulations make it almost impossible for anyone to relocate a buisness in Wayne. The regulations and fee's are overbearing and they need to catch up with the times. Just look North on RT23 they have no problems attracting ratables. Even when you own your own private home and property almost everything requires permits, fee's, inspections etc etc. Its only a breeze when you are connected with the right people. Its disgusting what they put people through in this town. While buisnesses are moving out, home's being sold or in foreclosure all they do downtown is play the fiddle while Wayne burns. And who has to make up for all the losses of tax income? The remaining taxpayers that's who. Hey Mayor & Council "Wise up".
Nose Wayne October 12, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Maybe I will run for Mayor, I NOSE a lot of people in this town and am getting sick and tired of these "IDIOTS" (sorry Dan) throwing our hard earn money away on issues that should not be issues. They are not going to "WISE UP" until somebody puts them in their place. And that place is outside looking in.Will decide soon and EVERYONE will NOSE i'm taking this very seriously, and will have the backing to do so. STAY TUNED !!!!!!
Resident Kelly October 12, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Congratulations Mr. Burke! One of the things we have to remember is that the mayor and the council appoint the town attorneys which are their friends so they don't care about litigation. In fact, they welcome it because their friends are the ones making money. The complacency of the residents is outrageous. There is a lot of good things we could've done for the residents of this town with $220,000. We should be asking for firing and resignations. We need change on our council. We need forward thinking on our council. We need to stop fighting health and sustainability and start promoting it and teaching it to our residents and helping each other. Lets start building community.
Rob Burke October 12, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Thanks, Kelly. You hit on an important issue -- building community. My journey started with a focus on renewable energy. That expanded to sustainability. And now iis focused on building community. The success of our Garden for Good program has led me to start a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Garden State Grow. Our mission is to foster Victory Gardens on public land in every single one of NJ's municipalities. We have inroads already into West Orange and Asbury, and we have the support of a couple State senators and assemblypeople. We hope to integarte these gardens into local food pantries as well as school curricula. Stay tuned!
Scondo October 14, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I for one am glad to see it resolved and I hope in the future that the Land Use Boards are reconstituted with people who will stick to land use procedure and act in good faith and fairness. It is perhaps time to reconstitute the Boards from top to bottom.
jay nygard October 28, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Hi, I just won the same fight against my town after 2 years of strife. Just thought you might like to check it out on the links below, and CONGRATULATIONS!!!, I know exactly how you feel/felt.... http://www.startribune.com/local/175334301.html?refer=y http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/10/24/orono-man-fights-the-city-to-post-unique-wind-turbine/
jay nygard October 28, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I just wanted to add how sad it is that the people running our cities have very little idea what zoning codes are for and how to apply them equally to all.

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