Industrial-size wind turbines, no matter how egregious they may be to the residents of Charlestown, may be either constructed or stopped based on the ruling of Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers. In effect, Lawrence LeBlanc, the plaintiff, and his attorney, Nicholas Gorham, are seeking a judgment that eliminates the Charlestown Planning Commission from reviewing the Whalerock Renewable Energy application, thereby changing the established procedures for public review.
The journey of this application through the Charlestown public review process has been well-documented. The wrangling of Whalerock owner LeBlanc and his attorneys has taken several twists and turns to free themselves from the oversight that the Charlestown Planning Commission provides in support of the town’s comprehensive plan as passed by ballot in 2006. Gorham, LeBlanc and Greg Avedisian, a past town councilor, have actively sought to change the Planning Commission from an elected body to an appointed one, calculated to reduce its effectiveness in enforcing the comprehensive plan.
The other players in this melodrama are the Town Council and the Zoning Board of Review. The Town Council could be aced out of the process if Justice Rodgers so rules, even though the original and current Whalerock applications allow for interaction with the Town Council. What the plaintiffs actually seek is the blessing of the Zoning Board of Review for their project through awarding a special use permit. Many residents of Charlestown have questioned the impartiality of the Zoning Board members based on past actions and statements made about the Whalerock proposal.
But this isn’t about the Zoning Board, the Planning Commission, or about industrial-size wind turbines. It is about one man telling the town that no one can tell him what he can do with his property. It is about turning an obscene profit on a piece of land, historically through projects that are not supported by state law, the town’s comprehensive plan, and by rational thought and economics. It is about a man’s willingness to adversely affect his neighbor’s property values and possibly their health, because he cannot think of a way to turn a large profit on his property without possibly hurting his neighbors.
LeBlanc has every right to legally and sensibly make a profit on his investment, but he and his lawyer seem to want to bypass the established checks and balances created by the town for the good of all its residents. If this project goes to the Zoning Board for a special use permit, I will not be surprised to see the permit awarded over the complaints of many of the town’s residents, especially the abutters. I would not be surprised to see the Zoning Board overlook the restrictions imposed by the state regarding special use permitting. Larry LeBlanc may win his pressing contest with the town, but it remains to be seen how LeBlanc will proceed.
The Ill-Wind Coalition, through support of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, will conduct a seminar on the effects of industrial-size wind turbines, at the Cross’ Mills Public Library on Friday, April 12, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The public is invited to attend and ask questions or voice their opinions.
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