CHARLESTOWN – The convoluted struggle over Whalerock Renewable Energy LLC’s bid to construct wind turbines has been extended into November, this time by a Zoning Board dispute involving the notification of adjacent property owners.
The board, which has been sued by a residents group and the town, voted 4-1 this week to further delay the proceedings.
Superior Court Associate Justice Judith C. Savage ruled in August that the board had to clarify its January 2011 decision allowing Whalerock to proceed with a plan to erect two wind turbines on an 81-acre site north of Route 1, between King’s Factory Road and East Quail Run, under a wind power ordinance that the council repealed last year.
The Zoning Board had overturned a decision by former Building and Zoning Official John Matuza in November 2010 that froze review of the project on the grounds that the energy firm’s application was incomplete.
Robert Craven, the zoning board’s legal counsel, had prepared a motion for the board on Tuesday to overturn Matuza’s decision based on Town Planner Ashley Hahn-Morris’s September 2010 determination that the application was complete. Matuza halted the review after Interim Town Planner Jane Weidman, filling in while Hahn-Morris was on maternity leave, determined the application was incomplete.
Despite the lack of legal notice regarding Tuesday’s meeting to the owners of adjacent property, about 25 of them crowded the Town Council chamber. Peter Ruggerio, the Town Council solicitor, suggested that the matter could proceed, with the notice question to be dealt with later.
But Craven said: “No notices…that’s a problem.”
Michael J. Rzewuski, zoning board chairman, said the hearing should be continued until next month out of caution.
“I’m treating this as a regular application, since it hasn’t been around for awhile. I think proper notification should’ve been sent out,” he said.
The five Zoning Board members who voted in January 2011 – Rzewuski, Ronald Crosson, Richard Frank and David Provancha – all voted in favor of continuing the petition, while William Meyer opposed it.
“We’ve been remanded back on three or four other occasions, but the town didn’t send out notice again,” said Meyer.
Nicholas Gorham, lawyer for Whalerock developers Larry LeBlanc and Michael Carlino, LeBlanc’s son-in-law, said he was disappointed with the decision to continue, as was James Donnelly, the lawyer for a group of residents who have sued the town, charging that the wind ordinance was illegal and that the council had usurped the authority of the town’s boards governing land use.
“I just want to know who’ll give notice the next time. For the town government to come marching in here saying, ‘We should’ve given notice,’ nothing’s more ironic than that,” Gorham said. “When you show up and start objecting to things, you waive the right to claim lack of notice.”
Donnelly said, “The only reason some of these people came out tonight was because they thought there would be a hearing. For that reason, I’d join Mr. Gorham.”
Whalerock LLC, which had once pursued a partnership on the wind farm with the town, began pursuing its plan through the Zoning Board and Planning Commission after the 2010 election, when the current Town Council, in one of its first acts, enacted a moratorium on new wind energy projects.
In their respective suits against the Zoning Board, the Town Council and the residents’ group claimed the moratorium barred town boards from reviewing the Whalerock proposal.
In her 51-page decision in August, Savage criticized all parties involved for shoddy record keeping and filing voluminous amounts of paperwork in her decision to remand the case. She also said draft minutes from the January 2011 were “woefully deficient” and that its decision allowing Whalerock to proceed with its petition did not include findings of fact.
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