August 7, 2012
Rhode Island

Wind turbine amendments to be debated at public hearing

By Olga Enger | Middletown Patch | 7 August 2012

Although the Planning Board concluded proposed amendments to the wind turbines were inconsistent with the comprehensive plan, council approved the proposal to be forwarded to a public hearing.

Proposed amendments that would restrict wind turbines in Middletown will soon be debated at a public hearing.

On June 6, Middletown Town Council asked the Planning Board to review the amendments that would prohibit wind turbines in all zoning districts, with the exception of agricultural uses, field crop farms or horticultural nurseries or livestock farms.

After a special meeting held on June 20, the Board determined the amendments were not consistent with the Middletown comprehensive community plan. In a letter to the town council, the board said the amendments would “severely limit the feasibility, financially and physically, of future turbine development in Middletown.”

During Monday’s Council meeting, Councillor Chris Semonelli said he believed the board’s decision was a recommendation, and the council has the justification to come to an independent conclusion.

“The council has a responsibility, consistent with its obligation to protect the health, welfare and safety of its citizens,” said Semonelli.

Council President Art Weber agreed that the council should make the final determination and recommended the proposal be forwarded to a public hearing.

Councilor Barbara Vonvillas urged the council to wait until after the election to debate the issue. She said the town survey has been ignored and interviews with a resident who was negatively impacted by the wind turbine were misrepresented.

“I do not think this council would like this to be an election issue,” she warned.

Middletown Resident Richard Price disagreed.

“I respectfully disagree with Vonvillas that the Council has been misleading,” said Price. “The Planning Board’s memorandum is more of a recommendation than a conclusion. I think the council is well within its authority to reach the opposite decision that it’s well within comprehensive plan,” he said.

Councilor Ed Silveria said although he originally supported the proposal to allow wind turbines, he now realizes it’s just a business that negatively impacts Middletown residents.

“There is no reason that the rest of us should suffer,” said Silveria. “Now we realize what’s happened in Portsmouth. It doesn’t make sense.”

Silveria made a motion to forward the issue to a public hearing, which was approved. Councilors Richard Cambra and Barbara Vonvillas opposed.

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