Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Rhode Island
Three months after the Zoning Board unanimously rejected a plan to build a wind turbine at 810 Old Smithfield Road, the developer is back with a new plan for the property, this time to construct a solar farm.
The amendment was proposed by Town Council member Sylvia Thompson, who asked the Planning Board to provide an advisory opinion on the matter to the council. Thompson said there was insufficient information on the possible effects of large wind turbines. “There’s just too many unknowns for the town to move forward on this, I believe. Let’s not allow any in town until we fully understand all the ramifications.”
The Department of Planning & Development recently issued a cease-and-desist order to an unauthorized solar installation off Carr’s Trail. The June 4 notice issued to 394 Carr’s Realty LLC and WED Coventry Seven LLC — a subsidiary of North Kingstown-based Green Development LLC, formerly Wind Energy Development LLC, founded by Mark DePasquale — claims a recent site inspection by two members of the Department of Planning & Development found “hundreds of piles had been driven into the ground commencing construction of a proposed solar generating facility that had been denied development plan approval by the Coventry Planning Commission” two years ago.
The town council passed a 6-month moratorium on wind energy projects this week, putting a temporary halt on related development until December 31, 2017. West Warwick Town Council Vice President John D’Amico proposed made the proposal, citing that it would be beneficial to implement until the town finishes revisions for its wind energy ordinance and updates to the Comprehensive Plan.
Saying that the town’s current laws do not adequately address the threat posed by the development of wind energy, the North Smithfield Town Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that places a moratorium on the creation of turbines Monday night.
The Planning Board gave its blessing to the proposal at an April 7 meeting, unanimously voting to recommend that the Zoning Board issue the permit. That’s when abutters were first made aware of the plan.
"We thought we would impose a moratorium while we study other ordinances and templates and models and what's happened in other places and draft something coherent," she said. Other Rhode Island municipalities have imposed such a moratorium in advance of legislation, including North Kingstown, which ended up with a large wind turbine it didn't want on privately owned land on Route 102.
Aimed at governing the installation of residential and commercial-scale wind turbines, the proposal comes almost a year after councilors passed a resolution temporarily halting any new applications for home-based wind turbines and directing city staff to develop a workable ordinance to govern the placement and size of turbines in the future.
Newport Rhode Island adopted this wind energy ordinance to protect the residents from potential impacts of the towers. The full ordinance is provided below and can be accessed at the link on this page.
Last night, Middletown town council passed an ordinance that would restrict the placement of turbines in Middletown. The motion passed 4-2, with councilor Edward Silveira absent and councilors Richard Cambra and Barbara VonVillas opposed
Councilor Ed Silveria said although he originally supported the proposal to allow wind turbines, he now realizes it's just a business that negatively impacts Middletown residents. "There is no reason that the rest of us should suffer," said Silveria. "Now we realize what's happened in Portsmouth. It doesn't make sense."
According to Andrew Teitz, South Kingstown town solicitor and an attorney for Wind Energy Development, South Kingstown has nothing to worry about. Under current regulation, both private and commercial developers seeking rights to construct a turbine of any height must gain approval with the town's zoning board.
When the Town Council was asked by former member Deborah Carney how long the ban was expected to be in place, Councilman Dan Slattery posited that the residential turbine ordinance should be ready in three months and an ordinance concerning commercial turbines should take no more than a year to write.
The opponents of a controversial proposal for two tall wind turbines, poking from the tree line near Route 295, were prepared to criticize the project Thursday night. But the Zoning Board of Review voted to wait at least 90 days to resume the public hearing on the proposal, citing the need to gather more information.
Windsor said that she suggested a moratorium earlier in the month to allow the Planning Commission time to adequately address the issue. Ultimately, the Council agreed that the commission needs to move as quickly as possible to address the issue as part of the Jamestown Comprehensive Community Plan.
Residents pushing for the amendments to be approved have voiced support on the grounds of visual impact, flicker, noise, fear of declining property values, and appropriate use of turbines on residential lands, while some opponents have voiced concern out of support in general for alternative energy and others have echoed the concerns of the Wind Turbine Committee.
The Island Energy Plan Committee was unable to produce a quorum at its Wednesday meeting. Nevertheless, members present informally discussed the development of the plan's first draft, which they hope to have completed by November.
"There would be few if any places in Middletown that would not be seen as scenic, historic or natural from a viewpoint," said Tarpgaard. "These broad terms could apply anywhere in Middletown and effectually it could become law that no wind turbines can be erected in Middletown."
A new wind farm off Block Island could jump-start Rhode Island's economy and make it a national leader for using renewable energy. Or it could be a risky venture that actually thwarts economic development by unnecessarily hiking local electric rates.
Governor Carcieri and the state's legislative leaders put more pressure Monday on the state's Public Utilities Commission to approve a power-purchase agreement to pave the way for a $205-million wind farm to serve Block Island ...The commission remains committed to announcing a decision on Aug. 11, just within the deadline mandated by the General Assembly.