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Council affirms wind turbine ban

Wind energy is officially on hold after the North Kingstown Town Council voted Monday to prohibit all wind turbines in town pending a state report on wind energy due out early next year.

Council members heard from a handful of residents at Monday’s meeting – all but one supporting the moratorium on turbine construction – before unanimously approving the ban. Planning Director Jon Reiner told the council he expects the state to issue a preliminary report on turbines in January, with the completed state guidelines due in March or April.

The turbine issue has consumed North Kingstown for more than a year, since the council council passed a wind energy ordinance in September 2010 that eliminated a restriction on the height of a turbine and lengthened the setback to equal the height of the nacelle of a turbine (from the base to the top of the tower, excluding the blades). The ordinance also eliminated the need for an applicant to receive a special use permit from the zoning board to “streamline” the process.

The next week, the Planning Commission granted a development plan approval for the North Kingstown Green turbine, which had previously obtained a special use permit from the zoning board. The 427-foot turbine would be built in the backyard of Mark DePasquale, CEO of developer Wind Energy Development. The approval motivated residents in opposition to the turbines, who turned out by the hundreds at Planning and Council meetings to oppose another turbine proposal – this one at Stamp Farm.

Council members soon reversed course, in January imposing a six-month moratorium on turbine construction, which it later extended. In April, the town revoked the building permit for North Kingstown Green, then in June the Planning Commission denied the Stamp Farm turbine application. The town will not consider any turbine applications at least until after state guidelines on wind energy are released.

In other business Tuesday, the council denied a proposal for a $34.2 million bond referendum to bring sewers to Wickford Village. While the council members expressed support for sewers both in Wickford and in the North end of town on Post Road, most said residents are in no mood to borrow $34 million in difficult economic times. Councilman Charles Stamm cast the lone vote in favor of the bond question, insisting Wickford, “the heart of North Kingstown,” needed infrastructure improvements to attract new businesses and maintain its economic base.