COVENTRY — Citing increasing concerns from constituents in her ward regarding Wind Energy Development’s newly-installed wind turbines, Councilwoman Karen Carlson made a public plea this week with town officials to “take notice and listen.”
The District 1 councilwoman read excerpts of correspondence she had received from residents surrounding the turbines.
“Our dream of sitting outside behind our house enjoying some peace and quiet no longer exists,” said a resident of Flat River Road. “We sit on the deck at night and all we can hear are the windmills. We open our bedroom window and all we can hear are the windmills. There is not one day that goes by that we don’t hear it. The ones who benefit from it don’t have to deal with the effects of these windmills.”
Carlson quoted another resident of West Long Bridge Road, who said they were experiencing issues with shadow flicker from the propellors of the turbine, particularly when the sun is setting. The home owner requested that the turbines be shut down during that time on a daily basis, citing the town’s existing wind energy ordinance.
“During the time of shadow flicker, the wind energy facility shall be shut down so as to eliminate shadow flicker issues,” the ordinance reads. “The presence of shadow flicker shall be measured at the property boundary lines and at locations within 2,500 feet of the wind energy facility.”
The ordinance also indicates that the applicant, when proposing the turbines, is required to prove that the flicker effect will not have “significant adverse impact” on the neighboring properties.
“I’d like to know what the hell we’re going to do about this,” Carlson said, apologizing for the language. “These are tax payers. They’re not getting anything from these turbines, and it’s time to take notice and listen. We need to do it now.”
Carlson also pointed out that the town’s own noise ordinance says that excessive noise degrades quality of life.
“For the people who move out to Greene and Western Coventry, they’re out there because they want a country rural lifestyle without a lot of noise,” she said.
Town Manager Graham Waters said that he has referred the complaints to the zoning department, and some even to DePasquale himself, who Waters said requested to be put in contact with residents who experience issues with the turbines.
“I’ve made no qualms about interfering on behalf of residents,” Waters said. “But I feel that if Mr. DePasquale can intervene first and take care of their issues directly and have a direct line of conversation with them, I think that would be the most beneficial.”
“We’re not supposed to rely on him to do something for the residents when we already have an ordinance,” Carlson replied.
Waters said that because the turbines were constructed in May of 2016 and have just recently come online, he has been referring complaints to the zoning department for further investigation.
The same homeowner who reached out to Carlson regarding the the shadow flicker also informed her that water from the wetland abutting their property was backing up and overflowing a segment of a nearby access road under which Wind Energy Development had installed a conduit for the turbines. The resident feared that the continued erosion of the road would lead to exposure of the electrical conduit which was installed in October of 2015. When the individual contacted DePasquale, they were told a depression would be made in the newly installed road to allow for proper drainage, but it was never actually made.
“The culvert that Wind Energy constructed has become blocked, causing the water to back up and flow over the road itself, washing out the dirt and gravel covering the road.”
Carlson said the Department of Environmental Management was able to acquire a cease and desist notice because Wind Energy Development was not issued permits to modify the wetland in the area. She called the incident “disturbing,” and asked that a town official conduct an inspection of the area.
“What I would like a zoning official to go out there and finally look at this,” she said. “Somebody from the town should be there checking our Chapter 200 which is our soil erosion chapter.”