NORTH KINGSTOWN – Several hundred people showed up at the North Kingstown High School auditorium Tuesday night for a Planning Commission hearing on a proposal to build a controversial 427-foot wind turbine at Stamp Farm on Route 2.
Richard Pastore, chairman of the commission, said it was one of the largest turnouts he had ever seen. The turbine is one of two proposed for North Kingstown by Wind Energy Development, founded by Mark DePasquale. Most of the people in the auditorium appeared to be opposed to the Stamp Farm turbine.
When Pastore said that public comment might be delayed until future meetings there were shouts and angry murmurs from the crowd. By 8:45 p.m. the public had not had a chance to speak.
Early testimony included Chicago physician Dr. Mark Roberts, who testified there is no evidence in the medical literature that there is increased risk of disease associated with the turbines.
The controversy over the proposed structure has already generated two lawsuits and dueling advertisements in local newspapers.
Opponents claim the Stamp Farm turbine is far too large for the site, and would create a safety hazard if it ever collapsed. They also cite problems with noise, shadow flicker (the alternating light and shadow caused by the moving blades) and ice thrown from the blades.
Jeff Zucchi, part of a group called No Residential Wind NK, said a huge turbine would invariably bring down area property values.
David Darlington, representing Wind Energy Development, said prior to the meeting that the turbine would meet, and sometimes exceed, safety standards established by the town’s wind ordinance, and has presented reports that conclude wind turbines do not erode property values.
But turbine opponents have said the town’s new wind ordinance, adopted Sept. 27, is not in accordance with the North Kingstown Comprehensive Plan. Attorney John C. Revens, representing Schartner Farms owner Richard Schartner, has filed suit saying that the ordinance should be declared invalid.
The ordinance took the issue away from the Zoning Board and vested power in the Planning Commission. The Zoning Board of Review rejected the Stamp Farm turbine in August. Wind Energy Development is appealing that decision in Superior Court.
WHAT’S NEXT?Turbulence in North Kingstown
Additional meetings: Planning Commission Chairman Richard L. Pastore said there will probably be several more meetings before the Planning Commission comes to a decision. The next one would be scheduled in February.
Opponents of the wind turbine anticipate a legal challenge if the commission approves the Stamp Farm turbine.
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