NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Zoning Board of Review on Tuesday will resume its hearing on a special permit and variance allowing construction of a 462-foot-tall wind turbine generator on the historic Pacheco family farm at 810 Old Smithfield Road.
The 1.5-megawatt power generating structure would be built for Ruth Pacheco and her family by Green Development LLC of North Kingstown, a major developer of wind and solar power systems in Rhode Island.
The zoning board on March 12 heard a presentation on the proposed wind generator and its location on the Pacheco farm land to the south of Dowling Village that was directed by Green’s legal counsel, John Mancini. The presentation included testimony by the company’s employees and consultants and concluded before Board Chairman Robert Najarian allowed Patrick Dowling, a local resident of Sayles Hill Road and an attorney helping abutting property owners in their legal opposition to the proposal, to begin resident comment on the plan.
Green’s request seeks a special permit to locate the power generating facility in a rural zone and also a variance of the town’s 35-foot height limit to allow the 462-tall sweep of the turbine.
The developer presented testimony that the proposed location of the turbine on the farm would limit its visibility from surrounding areas and also not create significant sound impacts for the neighborhood.
The proposed turbine would produce sound reaching a neighbor’s property on Old Smithfield Road of less than 45 decibels “or comparable to the inside of a library or a quiet conversation,” according to Green Development.
Mancini indicated that the Pacheco family sees the development as a way to preserve their farm property while also contributing to the town of North Smithfield.
Dowling questioned whether the zoners should even be hearing the proposal as submitted by Green and refuted the developer’s contentions on minimal impacts on the neighborhood from the turbine while suggesting noise issues would be a concern.
“What needs to be considered here, not the scope of the noise, not the decibel levels, but simply the fact that there is no question that this project will affect the abutters and whether or not that is reasonable on a land use standard when we are dealing with a residential neighborhood and the residential zoned property surrounding this particular farm that is going to have this noise imposed upon it,” Dowling said.
The zoning board hearing is scheduled to resume at 7 p.m. in the middle school cafeteria on Tuesday with testimony by abutters and residents. It is not yet known if a further session on the turbine will be held.
A resident’s group opposed to wind turbines in North Smithfield, Conserve Our Unique Rural Town (COURT), has been putting out brochures stating its concerns over the Pacheco Farm proposal in advance of Tuesday’s hearing.
The group noted that the Planning Board has already approved the plan to locate a 465 foot tall wind turbine in the rural residential area of Old Smithfield Road and it will now be up to the Zoning Board of Review to decide if a special use permit and the height variance are to be granted.
“Do you want to have an Industrial Wind Turbine installed in your quiet neighborhood?” the group asks in its latest flier.
“An application has been made to install a 465 foot turbine on historic Old Smithfield Road. It will be taller than the tallest building in our state. Everyone in North Smithfield and residents in nearby Woonsocket and Lincoln will be effected by it,” COURT stated.
“This turbine is sited within a watershed area, within a half mile of the Woonsocket reservoirs and the Booth Pond conservation area in North Smithfield. To give perspective, the tallest building in Rhode Island stands 428 feet high. Industrial wind turbines in general can stand up to 500 feet and their rotor diameters can span more than 1 football field with a sweep area of 1.94 acres,” the group noted.
“Industrial Wind Turbines do cause health issues and they will ruin the quality of life we enjoy in our quiet rural neighborhoods,” the opposition piece suggested.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding