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.”