By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN - Residents turned out in droves to the North Kingstown Town Council meeting Monday night to listen to the draft of proposed amendments to the Wind Energy Systems (WES) ordinance, and for an explanation on the re-issuance of the North Kingstown Green building permit for a proposed turbine.
Ultimately, however, only one of those discussions took place.
The original revised WES ordinance prohibted turbines in town. However, since the North Kingstown Green project was a vested project, the ordinance needs to be revised again to include that project.
It also needs to include the appropriate performance standards.
“This doesn’t mean other turbines will be permitted in town, they’ll still be non-permitted. We just need to have a revision for this specific project in the ordinance,” said Town Manager Michael Embury.
Town officials are still working on the revision, so the discussion will be held at the next council meeting in September, meaning the moratorium would have to be extended for a second time. Town Solicitor James Reilly said that wouldn’t be a problem.
The original special use building permit for the 427 foot Vespa V100 turbine was issued in May 2010 by the North Kingstown Zoning Board. In June of this year, Mark DePasquale, CEO of Wind Energy Development, LLC received a letter from the town’s building inspector, Gary Tedeschi stating the “permit has been revoked immediately and would only be reissued if you could provide the specific make and model of the turbine to be constructed, a revised site plan and information regarding the anticipated decibel noise levels at the property.”
On July 18, Wind Energy Development (WED) submitted the requested information, but this time, the proposed turbine was changed to a Goldwind GW87, a mere 38 feet shorter than the V100 model. In addition, WED states that the proposed turbine will not exceed the required noise levels.
After review by the planning department and town solicitor, the building permit was reissued for the project, citing changes made on the application were significant enough to warrant a new application.
The difference between this project and the Stamp Farm project is N.K. Green had already received a permit under the old ordinance and is now a vested project, whereas the Stamp Farm project was still in the application phase.
Though still on the agenda, the public was given the chance to speak, with many reiterating their concerns over a wind turbine scheduled to be located in a residential area, issues with noise and light flicker, and more.
“I understand the legal basis of adding amendments,” said resident Robert Beatty. “But was it a substantial change? I find it fascinating that we’re going to install a Chinese turbine when we have no information about it. There’s only been three installed in the country.”
In other news, Town Manager Michael Embury updated the council on the latest information regarding the state pension board.
Embury stated the increase of pension payments isn’t because town town hasn’t been making payments, rather, it’s because of changes made by the state’s retirement board as a result of lowering the inflation assumption from three percent to 2.75 percent and from decreasing the net real investment from 5.25 percent to 4.75 percent.
That means the town would have to raise or contribute $4.8 million to the state’s pension system. Since the town can only raise a little over $2.6 million because of the tax levy, the remaining money would have to be taken out of the operations budget.
“This puts us in a dilemma,” said Embury. “This is going to be the toughest thing we’ve ever had to do.”