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Controversial Wind Turbine May Spin by Earth Day

Robert Burke hopes to end a six-year long wait to install a wind turbine at his business soon.

Rob Burke / Patch file photo
Rob Burke / Patch file photo

Rob Burke’s fight to erect a wind turbine at his business may come to an end soon.

Burke said recently that he would like to get the turbine up at his business, Wayne Auto Spa, in time for Earth Day on April 22.

“There are a lot of people who are really excited about it,” Burke said. “I received a lot of support from people throughout the whole thing and if I didn’t have the constant push from people I mean, how long could I keep the fight up?”

Burke battled with town officials for six years to have the turbine erected. He applied to install a 50-foot tall wind turbine in 2007. The Planning Board, citing a lack of expert testimony and safety and noise concerns, denied the application in 2008. The matter dragged on in court for years. State Superior Court Judge Donald Volkert overturned the denial in July 2010. Volkert stated in his decision that the board improperly denied the application.

The turbine will be 43 feet tall and not have blades. Instead a bladeless version will be installed, which is designed to be much quieter than ones with blades, will be installed.

Burke and the township reached a settlement agreement in July 2012. Burke will receive $220,000 from the town as part of the settlement. The money 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.

Burke has purchased 30 chickens and built a community garden on the property last year. Burke talked with kids at Temple Beth Tikvah about sustainability and planted seeds with them last year. Local kids have planted tomatoes and peppers in the garden.

The chickens and garden are the latest in a series of environmentally friendly measures Burke has installed at his Hamburg Turnpike business.

Nearly 60 solar panels on the roof generate 15,000 kilowatt hours worth of electricity annually. A water reclamation system cuts down the number of gallons needed to wash a vehicle from 50 to 15. He recycles motor oil and uses it to heat his business.

“It started out with sustainable energy, but it’s become about community building,” Burke said.

Customers and residents donate money to take eggs vegetables from the more than one dozen garden plots. He donates the money to local non-profits like Wayne VOAD.

Volunteers from Eva’s Village have picked up dozens of pounds of vegetables from Burke. Eva’s Village runs a food pantry for its clients, many of who are enrolled in the organization’s drug rehabilitation program.

Burke also makes lip balm from wax collected from beehives on his property.

“I actually feel like I occupy a different position in the community than I did five years ago,” Burke said. “This is what community building really is all about and it’s great to be a part of that and to help others.”

— 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. 

Al Scala January 14, 2014 at 08:03 PM
Great news Rob. You are a community treasure.
Rob Burke January 14, 2014 at 08:46 PM
Thanks for your kind words, Al! I expect to have the building & electrical permits for this sometime this week. We have a lot of work to do -- all at the same time that we forge ahead with the greenhouse & the garden expansion. Stay tuned!
Pad January 14, 2014 at 10:13 PM
Way to go! You showed these Wayne Politicians a thing or two. They think they are God. They should have settled in the beginning. What a waste of taxpayer dollars. I am not a fan of yours but I congratulate you on winning the battle. Well done!
Rob Burke January 15, 2014 at 06:17 AM
@Pad: Thanks for the congratulations. But its not about showing politicians 'a thing or two' (or about winning you or others over as fans). Its about living a balanced life and together preserving our most precious resource (planet earth) for future generations.
Rob Burke January 15, 2014 at 06:35 AM
P.S. -- Anyone who has some time, desire and skill to help design & install a wire trellis along our building wall -- please contact me asap! In a month or so that project needs to be completed so we can yield a huge, early crop of peas for the hungry folks at Eva's Village.
Steven Rose January 15, 2014 at 07:53 AM
Rob Great to hear....thanks for your efforts.
Rob Burke January 15, 2014 at 08:15 AM
@Steve -- Thanks! And thank you, as well, for your kind words and your support. It all matters and I'm grateful. See you soon!
Wayne's World January 15, 2014 at 08:59 AM
I have to admit I was a bit turned off by Mr. Burke's demeanor in the press and on this board during the years of fighting with the town - even though I agreed with the message and appreciated his resolve. I guess my Gen X skepticism and well-tuned BS meter makes me critical of the 1960s baby boomer types. Having said that, I have become a big fan of Mr. Burke and Wayne Auto Spa. He has turned his business and ancillary projects into a jewel of the community and I applaud him for that. His sustainability and conservation efforts are certainly the way of the future and he's making it happen now. For that reason, I have become a loyal patron of Wayne Auto Spa and will support this business with my $$. I hope everyone in town does the same to send the message that local business showing this kind of commitment to local and global issues should be rewarded. Well done, Mr. Burke.
Rob Burke January 15, 2014 at 09:08 AM
@Wayne's World: You're very kind with your remarks, and I appreciate them a lot. Thank you. Please introduce yourself sometime so I can say thanks in person.
Scondo January 15, 2014 at 02:24 PM
I hope the take away from this is that the land use boards of the town stick to land use issues and avoid the social engineering that they seemingly engaged in and that the politicians stick to business and stay out of vendetta actions. If that is the case, then we owe Mr. Burke a hurrah.
Wayne's World March 28, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Saw the article in the paper today about Mr. Burke. Great job following through on all of these initiatives. Aside from that, I remain impressed with the service at the car wash. Why? For a truly commoditized service, they have found a way to stand out: you get more service for the $ you spend, the workers are friendlier than other places (not easy to keep smiling after such a brutal winter), and the commitment to sustainable practices is commendable. I will continue to recommend Wayne Auto Spa to all of my friends/acquaintances, but anyone who uses a car wash at all should really check this place out. It's a car wash, but for the $$ spent it is a much better value than the other options in town. Truly a model for local business.

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