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Planning Commission: turbine application ‘incomplete’

The North Kingstown Planning Commission deemed the Stamp Farm wind turbine application “incomplete” Thursday night by a 5-1 vote, with Jeff Michaelson opposing, and asked for a continuance on the application.

In response to public outcry, changes were made to the application two weeks ago that altered the turbine from a 427-foot Vestas to an unknown turbine model up to 389 feet tall. The lack of information regarding the new and currently unknown turbine drew concerns from commission members.

“[The applicants] got more vague going through this process,” said commission member Paul Dion. “To me, that is problematic.”

Andy Teitz, attorney for applicant Wind Energy Development LLC, told the commission the company would be willing to give three to five different turbine options, which drew outcry from audience members. In the end, the commission voted to only accept one specific turbine model instead of multiple alternatives.

“It seems like we’re throwing up everything in the air and seeing what lands in the bulls eye,” said commission member James Grundy.

Most of the three-hour meeting was spent discussing the completeness of the application as well as whether the changes made to it two weeks ago were significant enough to constitute a new application entirely. (Due to the current moratorium on turbines, this would’ve delayed the process until at least July.) Both the planning department and the town solicitor felt that the changes did not constitute significant revisions since the changes “lessened impact.”

“We felt that the new revisions had less impact than the old [application],” said Planning Director Jon Reiner.

The unknown variables between the originally proposed Vestas V-100 and the yet-to-be-determined turbine – including changes in shadow flicker, size, etc. – hindered the commission’s ability to determine whether these changes were significant.

Jack Revens, an attorney representing the neighboring Schartner family – which opposes the Stamp Farm proposal – argued that the changes made it a “completely different product” and thus a new application. Revens wasn’t alone, as audience members mumbled and shouted to the Planning Commission to reject the application altogether. The outcry even prompted Planning Commission Chair Dick Pastore to notify the audience that he would call the police to escort any unruly audience members out of the meeting.

The commission will determine at date to hear more information from the applicants on the application in its March 1 meeting.