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Court records: Former NK residents paid $15K not to disparage wind turbine

A couple who previously lived next to the 413-foot wind turbine in a subdivision off Ten Rod Road – and staunchly opposed its construction – were paid $15,000 by the turbine’s owner in 2011 and agreed not to publicly or privately disparage the project.

Court records: Former NK residents paid $15K not to disparage wind turbine

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NORTH KINGSTOWN — A couple who previously lived next to the 413-foot wind turbine in a subdivision off Ten Rod Road – and staunchly opposed its construction – were paid $15,000 by the turbine’s owner in 2011 and agreed not to publicly or privately disparage the project.

The couple, Scott and Nicole Newcombe, also agreed not to return any inquiries from the media about the turbine, or provide written or spoken comments about the turbine to any local, state or federal regulatory body, according to a signed copy of the confidential settlement agreement submitted in court documents as part of a civil lawsuit filed by the Newcombes.

The couple, formerly of 52 Thornton Way, filed the lawsuit against North Kingstown Green, Wind Energy Development LLC and Mark DePasquale in Washington County Superior Court on May 10. They now live in North Carolina.

DePasquale is the developer who built the North Kingstown Green subdivision and the owner of Wind Energy Development, which built the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

 Court records: Former NK residents paid $15K not to disparage wind turbine

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NORTH KINGSTOWN — A couple who previously lived next to the 413-foot wind turbine in a subdivision off Ten Rod Road – and staunchly opposed its construction – were paid $15,000 by the turbine’s owner in 2011 and agreed not to publicly or privately disparage the project.

The couple, Scott and Nicole Newcombe, also agreed not to return any inquiries from the media about the turbine, or provide written or spoken comments about the turbine to any local, state or federal regulatory body, according to a signed copy of the confidential settlement agreement submitted in court documents as part of a civil lawsuit filed by the Newcombes.

The couple, formerly of 52 Thornton Way, filed the lawsuit against North Kingstown Green, Wind Energy Development LLC and Mark DePasquale in Washington County Superior Court on May 10. They now live in North Carolina.

DePasquale is the developer who built the North Kingstown Green subdivision and the owner of Wind Energy Development, which built the controversial turbine. He also is a resident of North Kingstown Green; the turbine is located adjacent to his home at 42 Thornton Way.

Although the turbine was approved by North Kingstown’s Planning Commission in May 2011, residents of North Kingstown Green came out in opposition to the turbine’s construction after the fact – contacting local media and speaking out in opposition to the turbine at Town Council meetings. They said they were not aware of “the particulars” of the turbine proposal and, despite signing a document that said they would support its construction, they opposed it.

In February 2011, the Newcombes and neighbors Colleen Clare, Sean Coen, Kim and Todd Teixeira, Munmun Das, Subhransu Mohanty and Shelley Anderson all signed a letter submitted to the Independent that laid out their concerns with the turbine.

“We at first did not oppose this project, however, with the recent developments surrounding [another proposed turbine at Stamp Farm on South County Trail] and all the new information available to us, we have become more informed of the magnitude and impact this turbine will have on our families’ health and safety, as well as the effect it will have on the perceived value of North Kingstown Green in general and our homes in particular,” the letter noted.

The proposed Stamp Farm turbine was never built.

The North Kingstown Green residents went on to write, “But, our primary concern doesn’t reside with the aesthetic harm to the beauty of our neighborhood and North Kingstown; it is the health and safety issues of our families, especially the children, that most concern us.”

As part of the approved plans, portions of land adjacent to the turbine were to be exchanged between DePasquale and landowners in the development, and property deeds were supposed to be transferred. While all of the North Kingstown Green residents signed letters consenting to the turbine’s construction, the actual paperwork for the deed transfers wasn’t filed with the town.

When some of the neighbors balked at signing the deed transfers, DePasquale filed a $25 million lawsuit against the neighbors in May 2011. A month later, a confidential settlement was reached between DePasquale and the neighbors, but the terms were never disclosed.

The outcry from the neighbors ceased and after the dust settled, the 413-foot Chinese-made Goldwind Global GW87 was erected in October of last year.

Under the terms of the agreement with the Newcombes, DePasquale agreed to pay $15,000 to the couple and would purchase their home for $612,500 if they decided to move. The terms of the confidential settlement agreements with other neighbors was not included in the court record.

When asked if the settlement agreement with the Newcombes was similar to agreements signed with the other neighbors, Brian LaPlante, the couple’s lawyer, said he didn’t know.

DePasquale’s lawyer, Steven Boyajian, declined comment Friday on the case.

According to town property records, the Newcombes bought the house for $575,000 in 2009. The 2013 assessed value is $522,700.

In DePasquale’s deposition, which is included in court documents, he said the agreement to buy the house for more than the selling price was “obscene,” but agreed to the settlement in order to resolve the issue.

The settlement agreement stipulated that if the Newcombes did decide to move, he would buy the house only after receiving federal grant money related to the turbine project, or 180 days after the turbine became operational – which occurred March 1, 2013.

If the Newcombes were able to sell the house on their own for less than the $612,500 figure, DePasquale would pay the difference as long as it was less than $150,000.

That agreement is now at the center of the most recent lawsuit the Newcombes have filed for breach of contract.

According to court documents, a woman who was a friend of the Newcombes contacted Phillips Post Road Realty earlier this year and said her sister was interested in purchasing the Newcombes’ property. She mentioned the Newcombes spoke of their displeasure with the turbine and the legal battle that took place in 2011.

A Realtor contacted the listing agent for the property, who said DePasquale was supposed to be buying the parcel back from the Newcombes, although the listing agent called back the Realtor later and said he wasn’t supposed to have mentioned that fact.

All of the parties involved in those conversations have been issued subpoenas to be deposed.

In the lawsuit, LaPlante argued that the Newcombes “have suffered and will continue to suffer severe and substantial damages” and the settlement agreement was a “valid, binding and enforceable contract.” They asked for the court to issue a declatory judgment and award punitive damages.

Boyajian, however, argued the Newcombes broke the terms of the contract when they discussed the terms of the settlement, the turbine and their displeasure with it with a potential buyer. He said DePasquale has “suffered damages including the loss of a potential purchase of the property,” and asked Superior Court Judge Kristin Rodgers to dismiss the case and order the Newcombes to pay $30,000 in costs associated with defending the lawsuit.

LaPlante asked for Rodgers to issue a summary judgment in the case and argued that the alleged breach – which the Newcombes deny occurred – did not interfere with the construction and operation of the turbine and that the basis of the confidential settlement agreement was to move the project forward to completion. He also argued that DePasquale has not lost any money over the alleged breach.

DePasquale’s lawyers argue it is difficult to quantify any losses associated with “bad publicity” from the dispute with the neighbors. In his deposition, DePasquale said he has been appearing before the Westerly Town Council seeking permission to build two wind turbines in town and that the council continues to make reference to the North Kingstown turbine and the controversy that surrounded it.

Rodgers denied the requests from both lawyers for a ruling and, according to court records, the case was been assigned for trial but no date has been set.

Hundreds of residents attended more than a dozen meetings in 2011 on both the North Kingstown Green turbine proposal and the Stamp Farm proposal. The majority of those residents voiced their staunch opposition to both turbines. Among their fears, opponents said the turbine could fall on a home and kill or injure someone, that their property values would be diminished and the flicker of light off the blades and sound could affect the quality of their lives and their health.

Since that time, the Town Council placed a moratorium on the construction of all wind turbines in town.


Source: http://www.independentri.co...

NOV 12 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/40524-court-records-former-nk-residents-paid-15k-not-to-disparage-wind-turbine
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