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Resident files court complaint over turbine

Late last month Lincoln Avenue resident Kathleen Shafer filed a complaint against the town's zoning board of review over a decision it made involving the proposed wind turbine. The complaint's roots can be traced to the town's initial site selection for the project - Barrington High School. (Legion Way is also being considered as a potential site.) Ms. Shafer lives at 210 Lincoln Ave., and her property abuts the school campus. She began questioning some aspects of the project and eventually requested a zoning certificate with respect to the zoning status of the high school, specifically as it relates to a wind turbine. The building official said the high school was exempt from the town's zoning ordinances.

Lincoln Avenue resident believes town has no right to be exempt from its own zoning laws

The subject of some heated debates in town - the proposed wind turbine project - is now also the basis for a Rhode Island Superior Court civil complaint.

Late last month Lincoln Avenue resident Kathleen Shafer filed a complaint against the town's zoning board of review over a decision it made involving the proposed wind turbine.

The complaint's roots can be traced to the town's initial site selection for the project - Barrington High School. (Legion Way is also being considered as a potential site.) Ms. Shafer lives at 210 Lincoln Ave., and her property abuts the school campus. She began questioning some aspects of the project and eventually requested a zoning certificate with respect to the zoning status of the high school, specifically as it relates to a wind turbine.

The building official said the high school was exempt from the town's zoning ordinances.

Ms. Shafer challenged that determination with an appeal to the zoning board of review, but the board voted 3-1 (with one abstention) to deny her appeal.

"The zoning ordinances are designed to promote public health, safety, and general welfare," Ms. Shafer wrote in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Lincoln Avenue resident believes town has no right to be exempt from its own zoning laws 

The subject of some heated debates in town - the proposed wind turbine project - is now also the basis for a Rhode Island Superior Court civil complaint.

Late last month Lincoln Avenue resident Kathleen Shafer filed a complaint against the town's zoning board of review over a decision it made involving the proposed wind turbine.

The complaint's roots can be traced to the town's initial site selection for the project - Barrington High School. (Legion Way is also being considered as a potential site.) Ms. Shafer lives at 210 Lincoln Ave., and her property abuts the school campus. She began questioning some aspects of the project and eventually requested a zoning certificate with respect to the zoning status of the high school, specifically as it relates to a wind turbine.

The building official said the high school was exempt from the town's zoning ordinances.

Ms. Shafer challenged that determination with an appeal to the zoning board of review, but the board voted 3-1 (with one abstention) to deny her appeal.

"The zoning ordinances are designed to promote public health, safety, and general welfare," Ms. Shafer wrote in a recent e-mail. "In this case the zoning laws and proper siting standards are being disregarded, and as a result the high school and nearby residents are proposed to be located in the fall zone of a 328-foot tall wind turbine.

"It is frustrating to many residents that the township is disregarding not only its own zoning ordinances but also industry and manufacturer's setback standards with respect to the high school site, and allowing it to continue as a feasible location."

Now the issue is headed to court.

On Aug. 29, Ms. Shafer filed the civil action over the decision made by the zoning board, stating that the building official's determination and the board's decision which affirmed it "were erroneous in that they relied on a purported self-exemption by the town from its own zoning ordinance which simply does not exist in law based on the proprietary (vs. ‘truly governmental') nature of the activity involved."

It also stated that the determination and decision were flawed in that they did not consider state law.

When asked about the issue earlier this summer, Barrington Building Official Robert Speaker pointed to the town's zoning ordinances, chapter 185, section 4 - "Compliance required." The section includes the provision: "The Town of Barrington itself, both as to land owned by the Town and to governmental activity and use, shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter."

The zoning board of review sided with Mr. Speaker.

The board also voted for the denial on the grounds that "the residents of the town have voted to have a wind turbine provide power for a government building, thereby making it a governmental function of the town."

Ms. Shafer hopes the courts will provide some clarity.

"The township is relying on a local provision that exempts itself from following zoning laws on town-owned land. My appeal intends to get a ruling that this local provision or ‘exemption' is unlawful in the State of Rhode Island, and that the wind turbine project does not comply with Barrington's own zoning ordinance," Ms. Shafer wrote.

"The installation of a 328-foot tall wind turbine is a significant land use decision that can impact many residents, and should be guided by development of an ordinance that considers appropriate impacts analysis, siting standards, and public participation."


Source: http://www.eastbayri.com/de...

SEP 10 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17026-resident-files-court-complaint-over-turbine
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