Residential wind turbine lawsuit dismissed
Credit: By Chris Church, Staff Writer | North East Independent | August 20, 2015 | www.independentri.com ~~
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A civil lawsuit brought by two former North Kingstown residents against the owner of the 411-foot wind turbine in the North Kingstown Green subdivision off Ten Rod Road has been dismissed.
When contacted by a reporter Monday, lawyers for both sides declined comment on the case or whether a settlement was reached out of court.
As part of the stipulation of dismissal filed in Washington County Superior Court in Wakefield June 9, the parties are responsible for their own legal costs.
Scott and Nicole Newcombe, formerly of 52 Thornton Way, and now of Mooresville, North Carolina, filed the suit in 2013. They sought punitive damages – at one point asking Superior Court Judge Kristin E. Rodgers to seize $223,025 in assets from Mark DePasquale, owner of the turbine and developer of the upscale subdivision that both parties lived in at one point.
DePasquale is president and owner of Wind Energy Development LLC, which is currently building ten turbines for the town of Coventry. His home at 42 Thornton Way is next to the Goldwind Global GW87 turbine, which was erected in October 2012.
The Newcombes staunchly opposed the wind turbine until June 2011 – when DePasquale paid them $15,000 as part of a confidential settlement agreement in which the couple agreed not to publicly or privately disparage the project. They also agreed not to return inquiries from the media about the turbine, or to provide written or verbal comments about it to any local, state or federal regulatory body, according to a signed copy of the confidential settlement agreement submitted in court documents.
Under the terms of the agreement with the Newcombes, DePasquale agreed to purchase the couple’s home for $612,500, if they decided to move. If the Newcombes were able to sell the house on their own for less than the $612,500 figure, DePasquale would pay the difference up to $150,000.
According to town property records, the Newcombes bought the house for $575,000 in 2009. According to online property records, they sold it in March 2014 for $485,000. The 2015 assessed value is $522,700.
In DePasquale’s deposition, which is included in court documents, he said the agreement to buy the house for more than the selling price was “obscene,” but agreed to the settlement in order to resolve the issue.
The settlement agreement stipulated that if the Newcombes opted to move, he would buy the house only after receiving federal grant money related to the turbine project, or 180 days after the turbine became operational – which occurred March 1, 2013.
The lawsuit stemmed from a disagreement between both parties over an alleged breach of the confidential agreement.
According to court documents, a friend of the Newcombes contacted Phillips Post Road Realty in 2013 and said her sister was interested in purchasing the Newcombes’ property. She mentioned the Newcombes spoke of their displeasure with the turbine and their fight against the project.
A Realtor contacted the listing agent, who said DePasquale was supposed to buy the parcel from the Newcombes; the listing agent later told the Realtor he wasn’t supposed to mention that fact.
In the lawsuit, the Newcombes’ lawyer argued his clients “have suffered and will continue to suffer severe and substantial damages.
DePasquale’s lawyer argued the Newcombes broke the terms of the contract when they discussed the terms of the settlement, the turbine and their displeasure with it with a potential buyer. It also was argued DePasquale “suffered damages including the loss of a potential purchase of the property.”
Hundreds of residents attended more than a dozen town meetings in 2011 on both the North Kingstown Green turbine proposal and another proposed turbine near the Exeter town line. The majority of those residents voiced their staunch opposition to both turbines.
Among their fears, opponents said the turbine could fall on a home and kill or injure someone; that their property values would be diminished; and the flicker of light and sound could affect the quality of their lives and their health.
Since that time, the North Kingstown Town Council has placed a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines.
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