Residents resume fight over wind turbine

Residents resume fight over wind turbine

Residents of Old Smithfield Road renewed their protest of a proposed 462.5-foot wind turbine during Monday’s Zoning Board meeting. Holding signs from left are Judy Dunn, Barbara Mencarini and Fran Paul. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A 2016 fight over a wind turbine proposed for land off Old Smithfield Road resumed this week when residents turned out in force to protest its construction during a meeting of the Zoning Board of Review Monday night.

The application is a continuation of a plan originally submitted to the town in late 2015 by Green Development to construct a 462.5-foot turbine on land owned by Ruth Pacheco at 810 Old Smithfield Road. The company, originally founded as Wind Energy Development, is the same one proposing to build a solar farm off Iron Mine Hill Road.

Members of the Pacheco family present at Monday’s meeting spoke of their intent to preserve the more than 100-year-old family farm using the extra revenue generated by the wind turbine. Joanne Pacheco said her mother plans to continue living on the farm and sees the wind turbine as an environmentally friendly option to continue preserving the land.

“She wants to live on that land and she wants to do her best to protect and preserve it for future generations, as do all the members of our family,” said Joanne.

In 2016, the original plans to construct the turbine were placed on hold after neighbors voiced strong opposition to its location near a residential neighborhood. The area is zoned rural residential/rural agricultural, requiring the company to seek a special use permit in addition to a height variance for the 462.5-foot structure. The project was set to appear before the Zoning Board in spring of 2016 when town councilors instituted a moratorium on wind turbines, later banning them from town as part of the zoning ordinance.

The town later agreed the company could continue with its application for the Old Smithfield Road turbine, which was submitted before the ban went into effect.

The version of the application discussed Monday night was largely unchanged from the original plans. According to company representatives, the turbine would generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity and disturb 1.5 acres of the 51.4-acre property. The turbine, manufactured by a German company, would include a 328-foot tower and three 134.5-foot blades that, when pointing straight up, would total 462.5 feet in height, more than 427 feet beyond the 35-foot limit currently in place.

Though most residents did not have an opportunity to speak during the three-hour hearing, which will be continued on April 9, company representatives tried to preemptively address some of residents’ concerns, including an effect of sunlight in the spinning turbines known as a “shadow flicker.” The flicker, they said, would only affect neighbors for between five and 20 hours per year and provided a map of affected homes. Representatives also claimed noise output would be below 45 decibels, comparable to a conversation, and property values would not be affected once the turbine was built. There can be an impact on values during the permitting process, based on something known as a "fear factor."

Attorney Patrick Dowling, representing neighboring property owners, contested the company’s claim that the noise of the spinning blades would not prove a nuisance, citing a case in Falmouth, Mass., where the town was forced to shut down two wind turbines due to noise complaints. Dowling, also a town resident, told board members he was opposed to the project based on its location, which he said was inappropriate for a commercial energy development.

“I am opposed to this project based on siting and 100 percent on siting, putting a commercial energy facility in a residential neighborhood,” he said.

There was some confusion over whether the company had to abide by a town zoning ordinance requiring a larger setback from neighboring properties due to the height of the turbine. As a result, the company submitted a second, alternate plan that showed the same wind turbine 160 feet from its original location.

Zoning Board Chairman Robert Najarian kept the meeting within a strict three-hour limit, leaving further testimony from residents until April 9. Dowling told The Breeze residents have many concerns over the location of the structure and how it will affect their properties and quality of life.

“There are a lot of, I think, unknowns of how it’s going to impact them,” he said.


The wind turbines on Rt.295 even make the landfill look bad.

would Smoke stacks look better to you?

This is not the right location for a 328 foot tower. The case in "in Falmouth, Mass., where the town was forced to shut down two wind turbines due to noise complaints" says it all.

I'm sorry, but even Ms. Pacheco will regret her own decision to continuing to live on the land if approved. The infra-noise, flicker and loss of ability to say anything bad about the tower (after constructed) will all be moot. She won't be able to say anything bad about it, even if it does affect her own health. These companies insist on gag orders, cause they know the impacts of these industrial machines.

Planning Board, please do as is right.

....even make the landfill look The truth has been spoken.

..."These companies insist on gag orders,"..... that's a big claim. Please provide example... Or are you under a gag order that took away your free speech?

This online article got taken out of the North Smithfield section in the drop down menu.

My concern is the not the turbines but the developer firm and the owner himself. Currently, he is suing the town of Exeter, he has been involved in many lawsuits against towns and neighbors. His turbines have disrupted many neighbors. The Turbines in Johnston that the Mayor ignored the neighbors in Cranston received over $11,000 in donations from the company owner, employees, related parties the engineering firm and the turbine manufacturer. How do we not know he has not done that here. This is public information posted on the Campaign Finance Electronic Reporting website is there more He has been in the paper before related to donation that blatantly favor his projects and company. We need to not only assess if the turbines are a good fit but is the developer a good fit, we need to do our homework. From what I have seen he is not a responsible developer.

Recently the town of Johnston let green dev. install 7 turbines near Cranston city limits. These monstrosities are not only an eyesore but are LOUD! Don't be fooled, I live 2000' from one now and it has negatively affected my property enjoyment. Drive down Alpine Estates Drive in Cranston and take a look for yourself.

I provided a link for proof of gag orders, but the post was removed.

To add a counter point to many of these other comments, let's not rule out this turbine development. Please consider how the structures will also benefit your community in the long run by providing energy without producing harmful emissions--emissions which pose a PROVEN threat to the air quality (and therefore the health) of Rhode Islanders.

Yes, the turbines will affect their surroundings. However, hopefully, residents of North Smithfield can also see the benefits of clean energy development, and they are able to work WITH developers to come to some sort of compromise.

And let's also remember, in a good compromise, neither side will be completely happy.

Wind farm companies are getting rich at taxpayers expense. Huge government subsidies are handed out and still they don't break even in the long run. These turbines do not benefit our community one bit. The power gets sold on the open market. EDUCATE YOURSELVES.

That really isn't the issue in this case. The N.S. Zoning board was not set up to oversee federal tax laws or Federal funding.