We have lived on Old Smithfield Road for 12 years, on property zoned Rural Residential (RR). We built here because of the quiet country road, the pristine natural landscape and privacy. We were shocked to receive a Zoning Board notice for the April 26, 2016 meeting regarding the application for Wind Energy Development, LLC requesting a Special Use Permit to construct and operate a 2.5 Mega-Watt wind turbine on Ruth Pacheco’s property at 836 Old Smithfield Road and dimensional variance of 427.5 feet.
Even more shocking, on April 7 the Planning Board approved it. In the May 5 letter to the editor in last week’s Breeze, Town Planner Robert Erikson stated the board did a thorough and detailed review before approving this project. The Board accomplished this all in one meeting on April 7. How could the Planning Board approve a 465-foot wind turbine without any in-depth engineering impact studies on traffic, roadways, safety, environment and wildlife, etc.? Or studies on the effects on the surrounding land and housing values from real estate appraisers and impact on tax revenue? Or studies on the negative human health impacts attributed from wind turbines? Did anyone ask if the town’s citizens wanted 465-foot wind turbines in any residential neighborhood?
The Planning Board hasn’t published their report on this project, yet this project was on the Zoning Board agenda and was scheduled on April 26. The meeting has been postponed until May 24.
Town of North Smithfield doesn’t have a wind turbine ordinance. However, there are approved zoning ordinances to protect landowners of property zoned RR, which limits a structure’s height to 35 feet. If this 465-foot wind turbine is approved, this will set a precedent for more wind turbines to be erected on any residential property.
There are documented studies from experts on the negative impact of wind turbines on wildlife, environment, safety, human health, etc. Studies show that wind turbines are not an effective green energy. North Smithfield wind power classification is poor to marginal.
What will the town gain? Neighbors and the entire town will be negatively impacted.
• Reduction of property values surrounding wind turbines resulting in reduce property tax revenue
• Property owners unable to sell property will sue the Town and Zoning Board
• This will be the tallest structure in Rhode Island. The Bank of America “Superman” building in Providence is 428 feet tall.
• Potential health issues of surroundings neighbors.
• Negative impact on wildlife. Wind turbines kill bats which will increase mosquito population and the spread of mosquito diseases such as West Nile and Zika virus.
• Potential damage to Old Smithfield Road due to heavy equipment, trucks and cranes turbines parts (total weight exceeds 330 tons will costing taxpayers significant funds.
If approved, only one property owner benefits: Ruth Pacheco.
Please ask Town Council and Zoning Board for a moratorium on wind turbine projects until official zoning ordinances are approved.
The Zoning Board meets May 24 at 7 p.m. at Kendall Dean.
Sharon and Leo Mayewski
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