NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Zoning Board of Review appears headed for another long night of testimony on a proposed 462-foot-tall wind turbine on the historic Pacheco Farm at 810 Smithfield Road, after receiving additional proposal information from the builder, Green Development LLC of North Kingstown.
Zoning Board Chairman Robert Najarian said on Monday that Green submitted additional site drawings and literature on its turbine plan for the site that must now be handled by the board as a first order of business when it resumes its hearing on the proposal Tuesday evening in the middle school cafeteria.
The zoners had begun hearing resident comment on the wind energy plan at its March 12 meeting but the new information submitted by Green means the company will need to present the changes as the continued hearing resumes after initial board business on the meeting’s agenda is completed, Najarian noted.
“After the additional information is presented, if the applicant has nothing more to submit to the board I will open the floor for public comment,” Najarian said.
A large group of residents from Smithfield Road and neighboring areas to the proposed turbine site had listened to the developer’s presentations at the last meeting, with many holding signs voicing objections to the installation of a power-generating wind turbine in the community. A local resident and attorney representing opponents to the plan, Patrick Dowling, was given an opportunity to address the board with their concerns but the hearing was continued to Tuesday as the session exceeded the board’s curfew limit for meetings.
Green has submitted testimony indicating that turbine would have low impacts on surrounding properties while affording the Pacheco family the ability to maintain its farm property for future generations.
The opponents, including a residents’ group, Conserve Our Unique Rural Town (COURT), have refuted the company’s position on potential impacts and described the proposed wind turbine as a structure taller than the tallest building in Rhode Island.
The developer is requesting the zoners approve a special use permit allowing the power-generating facility in a rural zone and also a height variance for turbine to exceed the town’s 35-foot height limit.
The planning board has already rendered a decision supporting the location of a 465-foot-tall wind turbine on the rural zoned parcel of land at 810 Smithfield Road.
Najarian did not know on Monday how many residents might want to speak after Green’s update on its proposal and also could not say how long any board discussions with the developer might last during the scheduled hearing.
As a result, Najarian said he hopes to be able to return to public comment on the proposal when Green completes its initial presentation of the new information, allowing the company to continue with any responses to board inquires or testimony after public comment is held.
“We will hear what they have to say and then we will respond to the voluminous amount of information that has been submitted by the applicant,” Najarian said.
Najarian could not say how long that might take but offered that is was likely the board would need to continue the hearing to an additional meeting.
That could be required even if there is not lengthy comment by local residents, given the amount of information the board must weight before rendering a decision on the wind turbine proposal.
“There is a very high probability that another meeting will be held,” he said.
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