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Town officials to review wind energy ordinance

After controversy surrounding two 427-foot wind turbines swept North Kingstown earlier this year, South Kingstown officials will review the town’s safeguards to protect residents while promoting responsible sustainable energy growth.

Local officials will review South Kingstown’s wind energy
ordinances in coming months to ensure the town has appropriate safeguards in place to protect residents while promoting sustainable energy growth.

Their action is in retaliation to the controversy over two 427-foot wind turbines in North Kingstown close to residential neighborhoods, one of which was granted a building permit. Local residents in the neighboring town clashed for months with Wind Energy Development, the firm that sponsored the 1.8 megawatt turbines at the Stamp Farm on Route 2 and at DePasquale’s North Kingstown Green housing development.

“I think we need to get real here,” said Councilman James O’Neill, during Monday night’s Town Council meeting. “We need to come up with a solution before we are put on the spot with it.”

According to Andrew Teitz, town solicitor and an attorney for Wind Energy Development, South Kingstown has nothing to worry about. Under current regulation, both private and commercial developers seeking rights to construct a turbine of any height must gain approval with the town’s Zoning Board, a hurdle North Kingstown did not create until after its recent turbine turmoil.

“I think there is sufficient protection under (South Kingstown’s) ordinance,” he said, and warned the council of deterring sustainable energy development with overly strict regulations.

“The Zoning Board has the rights to determine what the impact is on the community,” said Teitz. “It’s not saying that no place in town is suitable, because the fact is that South Kingstown is one community that has a lot of suitable areas for wind energy and South Kingstown could be saving a lot of money.”

According to Vincent Murray, town planner, there are currently no private or commercial applicants seeking a variance to construct anything like the turbines soon to be built in North Kingstown. In fact, he said only a handful of small residential turbines, like one on Card’s Pond Road, exist in town. By next year a turbine, similar to the one installed at the Salty Brine Beach pavilion in Narragansett last year, will be constructed at the new East Matunuck Beach pavilion.

By 2012 the state will publish its opinion on wind turbine development and Murray said the Planning Board and Conservation Commission would work together to find a balance between sustainable energy growth and residential concerns.