Wind turbine plan has residents up in arms

Wind turbine plan has residents up in arms

Ruth Pacheco, the owner of a proposed wind turbine site at 810 Old Smithfield Road, told residents she believes the area is already congested with the noise of Routes 99 and 146 during a Zoning Board hearing Tuesday night. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Neighbors on an otherwise quiet street found themselves at odds Tuesday night with a large number of residents who turned out to protest an application by North Kingstown-based Green Development to build a 462.5-foot wind turbine on land owned by Ruth Pacheco at 810 Old Smithfield Road.

The Zoning Board hearing followed close on the heels of an initial meeting in March during which company representatives laid out their plans for the turbine, a $7.5 million project expected to generate 3.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Though residents were present at that meeting as well, the two-and-a-half-hour presentation took up a majority of the three-hour time slot, leaving most residents to hold their comments on the proposal another month. Only Patrick Dowling, an attorney and town resident representing neighbors opposed to the proposal, had a chance to voice opposition at the initial meeting, laying out an overview of residents’ concerns related to noise, health and compliance with town zoning regulations.

On Tuesday, those who had waited since March had a chance to have their say, bringing up concerns ranging from the health impacts of the “shadow flicker” created by the turbine’s spinning blades to a potential decrease in property values. Richard Drolet, a resident of Old Smithfield Road, called the proposal a “money grab,” while Kyle Santos, also a neighbor, said she suffers from migraines and questioned the impact the noise and shadow effect might have on her and her children.

“Lights like these when I’m having a migraine can curl me up into a ball and shut me down, so I can’t even imagine living with the flicker pattern,” she said during the meeting in the North Smithfield Middle School cafeteria.

Board members also heard from residents of communities where the company already operates wind turbines. Green Development currently operates 19 wind turbines in four towns throughout the state, including Coventry, Portsmouth, Johnston and North Kingstown. Neighbors of those turbines warned their North Smithfield counterparts of the problems faced in their neighborhoods, including noise and health concerns and the difficulty of enforcing conditions they said were promised during the approval process.

“We made a mistake. We believed everything he said he would do for us and nothing has happened,” said Portsmouth resident David Souza, referring to company Chairman Mark DePasquale.

In response to the complaints, DePasquale pointed out that most of the company’s other wind projects in Rhode Island were built under different conditions or using older models than the one proposed for North Smithfield. In the case of the Portsmouth development, the turbine was built by another company and only purchased by Green Development at a later date. Johnston’s wind farm consists of three-megawatt towers, twice the size of the 1.5-megawatt turbine proposed for North Smithfield, and newer technology that will allow the company to remotely monitor and adjust the turbine’s operation has not yet been installed at the Coventry farm.

DePasquale also told board members that the speed at which the blades turn, and the noise that results, is based solely on weather conditions and is not determined by the time of day. Residents of other towns disagreed, telling the board the turbine noise becomes louder at night, with some resorting to taking sleeping pills to sleep through the noise. Renee Petrone, a Cranston resident who lives 2,000 feet from the Johnston turbines, described the noise as “a jet engine that never lands.”

Pacheco also addressed her controversial role in the project during the meeting, telling board members income from the turbine would allow her to continue her farm operation. She contested neighbor’s claims that the street was a quiet, agricultural area, reminding board members that Old Smithfield Road lies directly between two highways.

“Please don’t talk to me about rural character,” she said. “We are sandwiched in between Route 99 and Route 146. Talk about the noise.”

While the area is bordered by several major roads, the site also lies close to Woonsocket Reservoirs One and Two, which feed the public water supply for the neighboring city and parts of North Smithfield. Dowling pointed out that in 2016, when the proposal first came before the Zoning Board, the Woonsocket Water Department submitted a letter requesting the town deny the proposal on the basis of possible environmental contamination. He also argued the proposal does not comply with parts of the comprehensive plan that state new projects should be consistent with existing uses in the area, in this case a farm on a residential road.

“I don’t think that anyone can stand here with a straight face and say that that’s consistent or well integrated in any fashion,” he said.

After three hours of comment from both sides of the debate, Zoning Board members voted to once again continue the hearing until May 14 at 7 p.m. at North Smithfield Middle School.

Comments

It does not belong in this location. There is a place for wind turbines (and solar farms) and this is not one of them. I would take the advice of the people from other towns who offered their advice and have nothing to lose or gain by sharing their experiences.

For the amount of forest and ecosystems that are destroyed,renewable energy zoning isn't always the answer.

Take a drive down Route 102 into Coventry some sunny afternoon after 3:00 PM, stop, park, listen and observe. Do take time to make this observation, 1/2 hour or so. The shadows of these behemoth industrial machines casts directly on the dozen or so residential properties fronted on 102 that lie just east of the them. Do also make note, most are for sale and have been for years now since the turbines went up. Also notice the farm stand that was once there is now closed....wonder why?

Be Careful N.S. ZBR, be very careful!!!

Not to mention, they're certified bird killers too.

Mr. DePasquale must have forgotten he was the founder of Wind Energy Development who installed the current Wind Turbine in Portsmouth, located near the Portsmouth High School. Mr. Depasquale's name is on the contracts with Portsmouth and Senator James Seveney. James Seveney who was Town Council President at the time, signed a contract that gave Mr. DePasquale and his company full control over everything for a dollar a year lease. We are required to purchase electricity at a higher cost then Portsmouth was paying. He paid most of our bond, but in fact it is only a loan that we are repaying. Because now we pay more for our electric and he gets the land rent for a dollar a year.

Mr. Depasquale's company and his Industrial Wind Turbines have destroyed the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods that he erects these Industrial Wind Turbines.

Wind Energy Development, LLC ('WED'). Since the company was founded in 2009, Mark DePasquale (Founder) has personally invested upward of $2.5 million in the development of the company and industry in the State. See website:

http://sos.ri.gov/documents/publicinfo/omdocs/minutes/6154/2014/38223.pdf

I raise question as to why did Mark Depasquale change his company name?

How much federal and state funding is Mark Depasquale receiving?

How many more residents have to suffer the noises, shadow flickers, and health issues?

Do you want one in your backyard?

Green Development installed a Wind Farm in Johnston consisting of seven 500 ft turbines 1500 feet from my house in Cranston. Being in a neighboring town we had no prior notification or say in the project. The noise from the wind cutting through the turbine blades is equal to a jet engine hovering over your house and never landing. I’m all for renewable energy but these turbines should NOT be placed in a residential area. Due to the noise these blade produce, at night in order to sleep, we have to close the doors to the rooms that face the turbine to dull the noise. Don’t let Green Development fool you too. There is no reduction in noise with the new technology. You can’t silence wind cutting through a 300 foot blade. Best wishes.

Fake news. Highways and main roads are louder than wind turbines. NIMBY on proud display.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKgN2G9d0dc

Fake news is something that is untrue. We all live next to these wind turbines and there is nothing fake about it!

Unfortunately people are not educated in the facts. You can take all the sound readings you like and everyday will be different according to the wind speed and direction.

We lived in our homes before these Industrial Wind Turbines were built. These Industrial Wind Turbines have intruded on our private space.

Those who do not live next to a highway and to compare them to highway traffic is irrelevant.

NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase "Not In My Back Yard"), or Nimby, is a characterization of opposition by residents to a proposed development in their local area.

By all rights keep them out of my neighborhood and please do put them in yours.