JOHNSTON – The opponents of a controversial proposal for two tall wind turbines, poking from the tree line near Route 295, were prepared to criticize the project Thursday night.
But the Zoning Board of Review voted to wait at least 90 days to resume the public hearing on the proposal, citing the need to gather more information.
Since the Zoning Board opened the hearing in November, members have requested a range of information and recently toured the site of a wind turbine in Portsmouth.
The presence of a dozen or more critics, on a day when snow was a major distraction, indicated strong opposition in the Greenville Avenue neighborhood where Wind Energy Development of North Kingstown has proposed the project.
Speaking before the meeting, Claire Montecalvo, of 720 Greenville Ave., said she and other project opponents have a petition with 300 signatures on it.
The neighborhood was residential when her family moved in, she said.
“We don’t want a zoning change,” she said. “We bought the property as residential. The two turbines are industrial-size turbines. They do not belong in a residential area.”
Plans call for the placement of two turbines on a 109-acre parcel off Greenville Avenue, near power lines owned by National Grid.
The developer has sought a special-use permit to operate wind turbines in a residential district and a variance from an ordinance that limits building heights to 30 feet.
The project also needs approval from the Planning Board and the state Department of Environmental Management.
At the highest point in their trajectory, the 162-foot blades of the turbines would sweep the sky at a height of 496 feet, according to records. Those blades, three on each turbine, would turn on a hub mounted at about 328 feet.
Each machine would have the capacity to generate 2.5 megawatts of power, according to the town planner.
A wooded buffer zone of 800 to 1,000 feet would surround each turbine, and neither machine would be visible from Greenville Avenue, according to the project’s manager.
The turbines would be seen from certain elevated locations off Greenville Avenue as well as from vantage points about a half-mile to one mile away, say proponents.
Allen P. Durand does not live in the neighborhood, but he supports the project. Durand, who is the business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said union electricians have received special training for turbine projects.
The project’s opponents include Anna Bailey, a nurse who lives at 6 Castaldi Drive, who said she fears the turbines will disturb her sleep and pose a health risk.
Gary Salzillo, 45, said he already has too much other industrial activity near his home, including a power plant and the State Central Landfill.
“The state dumps everything on us,” Salzillo said. “Johnston – the armpit of Rhode Island.”
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