NORTH KINGSTOWN – A couple that previously lived next to the 413-foot wind turbine in a subdivision off Ten Rod Road are suing the turbine’s owner for breach of contract and seek unspecified damages over a settlement agreement that they say has been broken.
Nicole and Scott Newcombe, formerly of 52 Thornton Way, filed the lawsuit against North Kingstown Green, Wind Energy Development LLC and Mark DePasquale in Washington County Superior Court on May 10. The couple now lives in North Carolina, according to court documents.
DePasquale is the developer who built the North Kingstown Green subdivision and the owner of Wind Energy Development, which built the controversial turbine. He is also a resident of North Kingstown Green; the turbine is located adjacent to his home at 42 Thornton Way.
Although the turbine was approved in May 2011, residents of North Kingstown Green came out in opposition to construction after the fact. They said they were not aware of “the particulars” of the turbine proposal and, despite signing a document that said they would support its construction, they opposed it.
As part of the approved plans, portions of land adjacent to the structure were to be exchanged between DePasquale and landowners in the development, and property deeds were supposed to be transferred. While all of the North Kingstown Green residents signed letters consenting to the turbine’s construction, the actual paperwork for the deed transfers wasn’t filed with the town.
When some of the neighbors balked at signing the deed transfers, DePasquale filed a $25 million lawsuit against those neighbors, which included the Newcombes and Sean Coen, Colleen Clare, Todd and Kimberly Teixeira and Subhransu Mohanty.
A month later, in June 2011, a confidential settlement was reached between DePasquale and his neighbors, but the terms were never disclosed. The dust settled, and the 413-foot China-made Goldwind Global GW87 was erected in October of last year.
According to court documents, DePasquale had agreed to buy back the Newcombe’s property as part of the confidential settlement agreement, although a price was not mentioned in those documents. DePasquale’s lawyers argue that the Newcombes broke the terms of that agreement when they discussed the terms of the settlement, the turbine and their displeasure with it with a potential buyer.
The Newcombe’s lawyer, Brian LaPlante, and DePasquale’s lawyer, Steven Boyajian, have both declined comment on the case.
According to the court documents, a woman who was a friend of the Newcombes contacted Phillips Post Road Realty and said her sister was interested in purchasing the couple’s property. She mentioned that the Newcombes spoke of their displeasure with the turbine and the legal battle that took place in 2011. A Realtor contacted the listing agent for the property, who said that DePasquale was supposed to be buying the parcel back from the Newcombes, although he called back later and said he wasn’t supposed to have mentioned that fact.
All of the parties involved in those conversations have been issued subpoenas to be deposed.
In the lawsuit, LaPlante argued that the Newcombes “have suffered and will continue to suffer severe and substantial damages” and the settlement agreement was a “valid, binding and enforceable contract.” They asked for the court to issue a declatory judgment and award punitive damages.
Boyajian argued that the Newcombes broke the terms of the contract and that DePasquale has “suffered damages including the loss of a potential purchase of the property.” They asked that the case be dismissed, and that the Newcombes pay all costs associated with defending the lawsuit.
Hundreds of residents attended more than a dozen meetings in 2011 on both the North Kingstown Green turbine proposal and another proposal for a similar turbine on the Stamp Farm property off Route 2. The majority of those residents voiced their staunch opposition against both turbines. Among their fears, opponents said that the turbine could fall on a home and kill or injure someone, that their property values would be diminished and the flicker of light off the blades and sound could affect the quality of their lives and their health.
Since that time, the Town Council placed a moratorium on the construction of all wind turbines in town.
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