Town Planners get an up-close look Friday morning at the proposed site for the latest wind-powered generator seeking approval from the town, also the largest wind turbine project yet to come across planners’ desks.
If approved as-is, the 294-foot structure would sit atop a 14-acre area located on the northwest corner of applicant Luise Strauss’ sheep farm at 485 Paradise Avenue, which is 119 feet above sea level and overlooks Sachuest Point.
Three other wind turbines are currently operational in Middletown: two 55-foot structures on private farms on Mitchell’s Lane and another at the Aquidneck Corporate Park off Valley Road.
The Planning Board is scheduled to tour the property at 9am Friday, Aug. 27, 2010, and deliberation or discussions will resume at the board’s next meeting Sept. 8.
Besides the wind turbine itself, construction would include a graded but unpaved access road, a small 4-foot-by-4-foot-by-3-foot utility building to house the turbine’s power transformer, a security fence around both, and electrical connections below ground. To comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, a blinking red light would be located at the top.
Strauss has indicated through her construction proposal that the wind turbine’s primary use would be to supply power for her sheep farm. However, that power also may be sold to the farm’s neighbor, St. George’s boarding school, as well as National Grid, the state’s main power and utility provider. Her attorney, Richard A. Sherman, maintains that so far neither has been negotiated. “If the special use permit is granted, then we’ll pursue those possibilities, but she’s the owner, she’s the applicant,” Sherman said in a previous interview. “This is Mrs. Strauss’ project and nobody else’s.”
Plans call for the town to grant a special use permit to build a wind turbine no larger than 1 megawatt in size, due to FAA restrictions, and up to 294 feet in height, which includes the span of either a two- or three-blade turbine.
Friday’s site visit, technically a public meeting of the town Planning Board, is one of several hurdles the project needs to clear before an expected vote to come before the town Zoning Board sometime in October.
Last week, the project applicant presented publically for the first time to the Planning Board, which shall weigh the project in consideration of the town’s Comprehensive Master Plan when submitting an advisory opinion to the Zoning Board of Review for the project’s Special Use Permit.
The public will be able to weigh in on the project Sept. 8 at the next meeting of the Planning Board.
About 30 town residents turned out at last week’s Planning Board meeting, many in opposition to the project who spoke about their concerns over the “dominant view” the structure would have over the town’s beach areas, as well as several residents who said they generally support wind power but were unwilling to weigh in publically yet on the latest project until more facts and neighbors’ concerns were presented.
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