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Judge weighs turbine ruling  

Credit:  By A.J. ALGIER / Sun Staff Writer | The Westerly Sun | June 7, 2013 | www.thewesterlysun.com ~~

WAKEFIELD – It won’t be a quick decision as to whether the town of Charlestown has legal standing as an abutter to property being proposed for two wind turbines on an 81-acre parcel north of Route 1, R.I. Superior Court Associate Justice Kristin E. Rodgers said Friday.

That decision will be made in writing, she said, without giving an anticipated date.

What Rodgers was perfectly clear and firm about is that her previous order stands. The Zoning Board of Review will proceed with its hearing on Whalerock Renewable Energy LLC’s request for a special use permit, which would allow developer Lawrence LeBlanc to build two 262-foot-high wind turbines on the site, bordered by Route 1, King’s Factory Road and Quail Hollow Road. The height, including blades, would reach 410 feet,

There will be no extensions while she considers the latest request from Peter Ruggiero, Charlestown town solicitor.

Ruggiero contends the town should be considered an abutter and allowed to present its own expert witnesses and offer a case before the board. He said the town owns property, through tax sale, within the required 200 feet of the Whalerock property line that makes it a legal abutter to LeBlanc’s parcel.

The property was previously owned by Gordon and Virginia Johnson, whose last known address was in New Jersey. It appears, said Ruggiero, that the Johnsons abandoned the property before the town’s attempted tax sale of the property. LeBlanc, when notifying abutters, tried to get in touch with the couple but was unsuccessful.

“The town can’t participate before the zoning board. They are not an aggrieved party,” said Nicholas Gorham, Whalerock’s lawyer, in his rebuttal. He said the town does not have interest in the property and has the land because it was not sold at tax sale.

“Call it a tax sale lot,” he said, “not as property they own.”

Rodgers said she would not give an advisory on who should be allowed to participate in a hearing.

Gorham said he objects to the town’s participation in the zoning hearings, claiming it has no standing in the matter after Rodgers’ April dismissal of lawsuits by the Charlestown Town Council and a group of abutters sought to halt the permitting process.

The hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday, June 19, at Charlestown Elementary School at 7 p.m. The board is limited by the availability of the school. The first two hearings have drawn nearly 300 people.

Gorham said Wednesday he has two more witnesses to present to the zoning board, which will decide on June 19 when to schedule additional hearing sessions, if necessary.

It would be up to the board’s discretion which parties are allowed to speak and present testimony at the hearing, said Rodgers.

Gorham said he anticipated the issue would mean further legal consideration for his client in the continuing court case.

The turbines, allowable under a wind turbine ordinance approved by the council in 2010 but later placed on a moratorium after three new members opposed to turbines were elected that November, can only be built under a special use permit.

Sun Staff Writer David Pepin contributed to this report.

Source:  By A.J. ALGIER / Sun Staff Writer | The Westerly Sun | June 7, 2013 | www.thewesterlysun.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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