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By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN - After a year of public hearings that saw a barrage of residents advocating against wind turbines in town lead to a moratorium on new applications, the North Kingstown Town Council unanimously approved amendments to the townâ€™s Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinance for prohibiting Wind Energy Systems (WES) at Mondayâ€™s Town Council meeting.
Both the Town Council and Planning Commission have reviewed the changes. Once the state has concluded its study of WES guidelines, North Kingstown will revisit its newly-adopted ordinances.
North Kingstown Town Planner Jon Reiner expects that the data will be finalized around the same time that the town will be working to revise the Comprehensive Plan.
â€śThe town doesnâ€™t have to do anything with the stateâ€™s guidelines,â€ť Reiner said. â€śItâ€™s just guidelines tools cities and towns can use when and if they decide to consider turbines.â€ť
The Commission recommended that the WES ordinance be revised to delete the majority of the existing ordinance dealing with the installation of new WES, to prohibit any new WES in town and to specifically state in the ordinance that any WES that were previously approved would fall under the ordinance and regulations in place at the time of that approval.
As stated in the ordinance, the goals of the amendments are to maintain the character of the town while preserving and enhancing its scenic beauty, natural resources and cultural heritage, all the while protecting existing residential neighborhoods and ensuring that development of new neighborhoods are in character with the town.
The town will also be looking into other alternative energy sources like investigating the feasibility of using alternative fuels to heat and provide energy to town buildings and to explore opportunities to convert to more energy-efficient technologies and sustainable building practices whenever possible.
NK resident Amanda Wright says she isnâ€™t opposed to wind energy, she is just opposed to large turbines â€śdottingâ€ť all around the town.
â€śI think small wind turbines on top of buildings are a fantastic idea.â€ť she said Monday.
Rollingwood Drive resident Jeff Zucchi, a member of No Residential Wind North Kingstown (NRWNK), expressed his support to what both the Planning Commission and Town Council have gone through the past year.
â€śSince first hearing about this last year, everyone in this whole process has learned a great deal,â€ť Zucchi said. â€śMore so, I think, than the state, because we lived through this. We as residents have said time and time again that weâ€™re not opposed to alternative energy. Weâ€™re just advocating for the protection of the citizens and not creating a public hazard and nuisance.â€ť
Though many have been opposed to WES, there have been the small few who expressed the positive aspects of having turbines in town. Butternut Drive resident Nick Graham feels putting a ban on WES is a bad idea for the town.
â€śWind Energy Systems in town means jobs for area residents and the prospect of utilizing state and federal grants to offset initial costs.â€ť he said.