Controversial wind turbine back on town’s radar

Controversial wind turbine back on town’s radar

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A proposal for a wind turbine towering hundreds of feet in the air is back in the spotlight after Wind Energy Development, a company now operating as Green Development, indicated its plans to move forward with the application.

The company, reviving a 2016 plan, is proposing to build a 462.5-foot wind turbine on land owned by Ruth Pacheco at 810 Old Smithfield Road. The project is located approximately between Dowling Village and the Woonsocket Reservoirs and would require a special use permit to move forward under the town’s zoning ordinance.

The proposal is part of the same application receiving preliminary approval from the Planning Board in 2016 before strong opposition from neighbors brought it to a grinding halt. At the time, neighbors shared concerns about noise, environmental impact and development in a rural agricultural zone. A citizens group named COURT, or Conserve Our Unique Rural Town, succeeded in seeking a moratorium on wind turbines, with the Town Council later voting to ban them under the town’s zoning ordinance. A lawsuit filed by neighbors also succeeded in delaying the project, but was ultimately dismissed in Superior Court.

While the ban prohibits any new wind energy projects from coming forward, the current proposal is allowed as an existing application. The Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on the project next Tuesday, March 12, at 7 p.m. at North Smithfield Middle School.

“They’re submitting the original application with the original Planning Board approval,” explained Building Inspector Kerry Anderson.

At 462.5 feet, the proposed wind turbine is about 430 feet taller than the maximum 35-foot height currently allowed by the town zoning ordinance, so the developer will have to seek a dimensional variance in order to move forward to the next stage of the application. The developer also needs a special use permit to construct a wind turbine in a residential agricultural district.

According to Anderson, the developer revived the old application about two months ago. If the proposal clears the Zoning Board, the project would still require final approval by the Planning Board before construction could begin.

The hearing is the latest chapter in a years-long effort to construct a wind turbine in the area behind Dowling Village. Prior attempts fell apart in 2010 and again in 2013 amid disagreements between investors and with the town.

Green Development is no stranger to renewable energy, having recently constructed seven wind turbines near the Johnston Central Landfill. The company is also the same one proposing a solar farm of more than 40 megawatts off Iron Mine Hill Road that’s still making its way through town approvals.


Studies are showing environmental impacts on plant and animal life.

Unsightly, can be seen from everywhere, infrasound, bird kill, light flicker, property value guarantees, and visual impairments for what: 5 MW of power.

Subject says it all, NFW!

After reading the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change report issued last fall predicting disastrous world-wide effects of rising global temperatures in the coming decades due to greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere mainly from the burning of fossil fuels I realized we will all have to make sacrifices to keep the planet habitable for not only future generations but our own as well. We must all adapt to changing over to renewable energy sources and the difficulties that may create. It's true that wind turbines are not yet something we are used to seeing in a rural landscape but a sight we must adjust to becoming more common. Newer wind turbines are quieter than earlier models. The impact on birds is real but not as damaging as earlier studies indicated.Light flicker local impact studies would need to be completed. And perhaps property values will be temporarily affected. Every bit of new clean energy including a 5MW turbine is needed now. The difficulties created by changing over to clean energy and the expense and sacrifice we make now is miniscule in comparison to the difficulties and expense we will face if we don't make changes and then must face the full effects of climate change. The science is in and we have ignored it for too long. We've run out the clock and the time for difficult changes is now.

When Samuel Slater was looking to power his mill ,he found hydro power was much more efficient than wind. Lets use the resources we already have, water and sun.

Man-made climate change has many detractors. It has been proven that the methods used to measure and calculate man-made climate change are fraught with discrepancies and false data. It HAS been proven that wind turbines kill countless numbers of raptors, bats and birds. Renewable energy is not all it is cracked up to be. Turbines also fail regularly and the cost to fix broken gear boxes, etc. must be taken into account. The Town of Portsmouth, RI lost millions when their turbine broke, and it sat idle for years.

..."Lets use the resources we already have, water and sun.".... So we don't already have the wind as a resource?

..." The Town of Portsmouth, RI lost millions when their turbine broke,".... is North Smithfield's tax payers on the hook with this one?

Whether or not the town is "on the hook" for a broken turbine, the world of renewable energy as it stands is strictly a supplemental source to the predominate forms of energy production (mainly natural gas and nuclear in our region). This massive turbine will forever change the character of the area and it kills raptors/birds/bats. Is this something we want to accept? Don't think for a minute that renewable energy is all peachy keen and "green". It also is a poor investment, as it takes our federal and state tax dollars and gives rebates and incentives to even begin to make it viably economical.

Just for the record.... I am neither for nor against the proposed turbine.... I really don't care... My issue is only about the land owners rights to do with what they see fit to do. I don't want to see the town be on the hook for it either. But its clear to see that so many against it are that way solely out of jealousy.

ATT wanted to put a tower on my land but zoning would not allow it.This is no different but to the environment.

Land owner's rights are ok until they infringe on other land owner's rights. The alternative of the owner selling the land to developers for housing may or may not be a worse impact, but at least it won't be seen for miles by everyone. I only pointed out the hypocrisy of the green movement that purports to save the planet at the expense of certain animal species.

Due to Johnston installing 7 turbines on my city of Cranston town line I now have 1 of these less than 2000 ft from my house generating a tremendous amount of noise. Compare it to an airplane that never lands. Thanks for the nuisance green development. I hope your town does the right thing for it's residences. Support our Senators who are rewriting legislation to deal with this nuisance trying to infiltrate towns without the towns having revised regulations on such monstrosities.