COVENTRY — Residents in Greene say they are becoming increasingly concerned and frustrated over the effects of the turbines installed in Western Coventry by Wind Energy Development, LLC. A number of neighbors attended the Town Council meeting Monday to speak out about their issues with the turbines, as well as a proposal by CEO Mark DePasquale to to build a solar energy system off of Carrs Trail.
Wind Energy Development was originally on the agenda that evening for a proposal by DePasquale to enter into an agreement where the company would make fixed Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) of $5,000 per MW, or $7,500 per turbine, for a total of $60,000 per year being paid to the town. He also proposed a PILOT of $5,000 per MW AC for a 5 mega watt AC ground mounted solar energy system. Combined, the proposal involves an annual payment from WED to the town of $85,000, but the item was removed from the agenda shortly before the meeting.
In exchange for agreeing to the PILOT program, DePasquale asked in a letter that the town recommend a zone change to the planning board which they would need to approve, as well as for the creation of a zoning overlay district and comprehensive plan amendment.
Councilwoman Karen Carlson, who said she receives at least two complaints about the turbines per day, visited West Log Bridge Road to see for herself what her constituents had been talking about. She said that although she was a bit early to witness the flicker effect of the propellors, she could hear the noise emanating from the structures.
“I can understand how it makes people crazy,” she said. “Honestly it was like this drone of a jet that just kept going.”
Carlson has heard from residents that both the flicker effects and noise have been issues. Some residents have said that even in the winter with all of the windows closed they can still hear the sound. She has also received a complaint from a West Greenwich resident, who she claimed is even more disadvantaged because all of the towers are on the Coventry side.
After waiting through a two and a half hour meeting, several Western Coventry residents voiced their frustration.
“The zones are not industrial and they shouldn’t have been allowed there in the first place,” said Daniel Shields, a resident of Carr Trail. “I live approximately 2,000 feet away from the closest turbine and on a typical day the volume is about as high as a jet flying over consistently.”
Shields said that during an information session at the Greene Library before the turbines were built, residents were told the structures would not produce sound past the property line.
“The town does not need his $85,000,” said John Shields. “I would put a moratorium on everything until the comprehensive plan is done. It should only be roof-top solar and no turbines anywhere in town.”
Sherry Elderkin, who lives on Victory Highway, said she moved to Coventry with her children for the country lifestyle, but the turbines changed their quality of life.
“I request that you sincerely look at these proposals and keep our land intact and rural for our children,” she said.
Flat River Road resident Linda Ferri said she felt those living in Greene had been misinformed about the project and disliked the placement of the proposed solar energy system as being near Broadwell Farm.
“Why are we dealing with any developer who wants to make a deal with the town?” she asked. “Can I make a deal with the town? Is there something I can do in lieu of taxes?”
“Respectfully, Mr. Shibley,” she added, “a bar less than a mile from your house is upsetting and disruptive, and the turbines less than a mile from our house are even more disruptive. We’re asking you to please, please help us.”
Another Flat River Road resident said that WED had received a cease and desist from DEM for work on West Log Bridge Road but had not stopped work. Carlson has requested that a Coventry zoning official visit the area to check for wetlands violations. She said she felt the proposal from DePasquale was premature considering the moratorium put in place for solar installations, which was recently extended to July 9.
“Why would we amend our comprehensive plan to accommodate a developer?” she said.