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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wind Turbines vs. almost everyone, round 4

The Zoning Board of Review holds their fourth meeting on the Whalerock wind turbine project.

By Tom Ferrio

When Will announced that he reached his limit sitting on the metal chairs at the elementary school, I decided that I should volunteer to attend the next meeting and write it up for Progressive Charlestown.

I have news for you Will; the seating was not a problem at all. I sat through the entire meeting with hardly a hint of pain!

Click past the break to read my report on the meeting.

The shortest story ever told

ZBR Chair Mike Rzewuski called the meeting to order promptly at 6:30 pm. Then he announced that the town solicitor responsible for Zoning, Bob Craven, gave late notice that he would not be able to attend Wednesday night's meeting. (Bob Craven is also the State Representative for House District 32 in North Kingston and you may have read about the late-night sessions debating the budget.) Rzewuski then wisely stated that he was reluctant to proceed without Mr. Craven and the ZBR quickly voted to continue the hearing until their next scheduled meeting on July 17.

That's it. Less than 2 minutes. I got home before dark. As I was getting up someone remarked "can't write much of a blog about that!"

Airing my opinion ... and frustration

So I guess I can use this extra time and space to state my views on this issue, since I haven't written about it before.

I have seen lots of industrial-size wind turbines, both from a distance and up close. I find them awe-inspiring and much more attractive than the telephone poles and power lines that sit in front of most everyone’s house. However, virtually all of the large wind turbines I’ve seen were far removed from homes. And I believe there are plenty of remote places to put them and we don’t have to push them down people’s throats. So I believe Whalerock is a bad idea.

Wind turbines overlooking the Dardanelles in Turkey (hazy day)
Unfortunately, being a bad idea is not (or at least "should not be") the criterion that the ZBR uses to decide whether to allow them to be built.

Will has an impressive résumé of his work fighting projects such as this so I won't pretend to be able to suggest how to stop Whalerock.

However, I can predict how to hand the development permit to Larry Leblanc on a silver platter. You do two things:

  1. Make it a fight about scientific facts and then present your case with data that wasn't developed through accepted scientific methods. Will calls it pseudo-science for a good reason.
  2. Make it perfectly obvious that you're are intimidating the ZBR. How can I list the ways? Tell people to send letters to the ZBR members saying they are supposed to vote against it because you say so. Put anti-Whalerock signs up all over town that the ZBR members have to see daily. Drum up attendance at the ZBR meetings by implying that opposition numbers will factor in the vote. Make everyone run the gauntlet through a group of the opposition at the only entrance door to the hearings. Pass out large stickers for everyone to wear so the ZBR can see how their neighbors feel.
Could 200 people wearing these possibly be intimidating to the ZBR?
Larry LaBlanc and his lawyers are smart people. He doesn't need Will and me to tell him that he should be planning the next court case now. He has seen two of the ZBR members signal their opposition to the project. That's all it takes to defeat it.

So the Whalerock permit will be denied. What does the opposition think LeBlanc will do after that? Maybe he'll just say to his lawyers "Well, it was a good fight but now I see what the town wants. They have fought every proposal I've made for that land so I guess I'll leave it sitting there and not try to get any return on my investment."

Yeah. Sure.

If the permit is denied it's going to go back to court. And the ZBR denial will be overturned in large part because of the ill-considered actions of the Whalerock opposition.

And even if Whalerock doesn't happen are the neighbors going to like LeBlanc's next plan for the land? Remember that housing development proposal that is also lingering in the courts after it was denied?

Now you can see how I chose my intro image for this article.