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Fight over turbines takes a timeout in Charlestown  

Credit:  By DAVID PEPIN / Sun Staff Writer | The Westerly Sun | July 18, 2013 | www.thewesterlysun.com ~~

With negotiations on a possible town purchase of the site continuing, the Zoning Board of Review Wednesday postponed a second straight scheduled hearing on a special use permit that would allow construction of two industrial wind turbines.

In a brief, sparsely attended meeting at Charlestown Elementary School, the board voted unanimously to continue the hearing to Wednesday, Aug. 28, at the school at 6:30 p.m.

Board Chairman Michael Rzewuski said he moved to continue the hearing at the request of town officials, who contacted him at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The continuance, which followed a similar postponement June 28, comes as the town and Larry LeBlanc, developer of the 81-acre site north of Route 1, continue negotiations on the possible purchase of the property. Whalerock Renewable Energy LLC is seeking to operate a pair of 410-foot-high wind turbines on the site. Over three previous hearing nights, in which representatives of Whalerock presented their case to the board, anti-turbine crowds of nearly 300 people packed the school’s gym.

Town Council President Thomas Gentz said negotiations began three weeks ago on a possible purchase of the site, on which LeBlanc had also tried to develop an affordable housing complex. Last week the council put an item on its agenda to discuss a townwide referendum on the purchase of the land for a price not to exceed $2.7 million, and continued the item until its next regular meeting on Aug. 14.

When asked after Wednesday’s meeting if the postponement meant that the negotiations could be characterized as serious, Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz responded, “They’re more than trivial.”

Nicholas Gorham, lawyer for the developer, would not comment on the state of the negotiations.

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance, which has strongly opposed the wind project, sent out emails notifying residents of the town’s request to have the meeting continued. Only a handful of people were in the audience Wednesday. The town was represented only by Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero. John Mancini, a lawyer for opponents of the project, was not present; he had been expected to present witnesses opposing the turbines.

When and if testimony resumes, LeBlanc’s legal battle with the town over siting of the turbines will have passed the three-year mark. After he won several favorable rulings in Superior Court earlier this year, LeBlanc needs only zoning approval to gain everything he needs from the town. His proposal would still have to meet state and federal regulations before he could begin construction.

Source:  By DAVID PEPIN / Sun Staff Writer | The Westerly Sun | July 18, 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.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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