JOHNSTON – A developer’s proposal for two wind turbines, each one nearly 500 feet tall rising out of the trees along Route 295, is in line with the town’s long-term planning goals, according to the town planner.
But the planner, Pamela Sherrill, notes that further analysis is needed, and Mayor Joseph M. Polisena says “there are a lot of unanswered questions that the citizens are concerned with.”
A Nov. 18 public hearing drew dozens of people, many of them voicing concerns about how the project would affect their Greenville Avenue neighborhood. The Zoning Board continued the hearing to Jan. 27.
Wind Energy Development of North Kingstown is proposing the construction of two turbines on a 109-acre parcel off Greenville Avenue, near Route 295, near power lines owned by Narragansett Grid.
It is seeking a special-use permit to operate wind turbines in a residential district and a variance from the ordinance that limits building heights to 30 feet.
Each turbine would stand 496 feet tall, from the base of the structure to the highest point in the trajectory of the turbines’ 162-foot blades. Those blades, three on each turbine, would turn on a hub mounted about 328 feet off the ground.
Each machine would have the capacity to generate 2.5 megawatts of power, according to a memo Sherrill wrote to other Johnston officials.
A wooded buffer zone of 800 to 1,000 feet would surround each turbine and neither machine would be visible from Greenville Avenue, said Eric Greenberg, a project manager from the company hired to direct the project.
The turbines would be seen from certain elevated locations off Greenville Avenue as well as from vantage points offering vista-type views about a half-mile to one mile away, Greenberg said.
If the Zoning Board approves the special-use permit, the project would need Planning Board approval and approval from the state Department of Environmental Management.
Traditional types of development are difficult to carry out on the site because of wetlands, said Sherrill’s memo.
The memo said: “The proposal will efficiently use wind energy while protecting wetland resources.… The site will offer visibility from I-295 and provide a positive image for renewable energy resources in the Town of Johnston.”
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