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Mannix calls for hiatus on wind talks

NARRAGANSETT – Freshman council member, Matthew Mannix, called for a suspension of negotiations with Deepwater Wind sending a formal motion to suspend and supporting memorandum to Town Clerk Anne Irons for placement on the April 1 town council agenda.

“There’s a presumption that there’s an agreement that this is going to go through,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “There should be no presumption. We, as a council, have a duty to make sure that the Deepwater Wind project is good for the town. We need to conduct independent research and determine if the project is good or if it isn’t good.”

Through a memorandum dated March 25, Mannix asked fellow council members to suspend all negotiations with Deepwater Wind until July 1, 2013 and to direct the town solicitor to prepare correspondence to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) stating that the town of Narragansett has not entered into an agreement with Deepwater Wind regarding the granting of easements from the town to Deepwater Wind.

The easements in question would allow the developer of the proposed offshore wind farm, to provide electric power to Block Island via a stand-alone electric cable running from the island, across Block Island Sound, to a mainland landing spot crossing Narragansett Town Beach and connecting with a landing station in the south parking lot. The cable would then connect with National Grid power lines running up Narragansett Avenue to a substation located in the Sprague Park Complex.

Mannix’s recommendations were predicated on the need to learn more about Deepwater Wind and its proposal to dig up Narragansett Town Beach.

“The project proposed by Deepwater Wind is extremely complicated and the short-term or long-term impact of that project on the town of Narragansett is unclear,” he said in written summary. “After a public session held March 5, in which Deepwater Wind representatives, town residents and other experts provided more detailed information about Deepwater Wind and this project, interest among the town’s residents in this issue has increased dramatically. As a council, we have a duty to learn more about this project and make sure that the momentum does not gather for an agreement between the town and Deepwater Wind without proper public vetting.”

The motion was scheduled on the agenda just days before the April 5 CRMC Ocean Special Area Mangement Plan (OSAMP) subcommittee meeting and hearing on the merits of Deepwater’s application.