Planning Board Recommends 100′ Wind Turbine Limit

by | Jun 4, 2014

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The wind turbine at Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett is 100 feet to the top of the lattice tower.

After more than a year of research by the town Planning Department and discussion with the Planning Board, the board voted 4-0 to recommend a wind ordinance that would allow turbines no more than 100 feet tall in limited sections of town to the Town Council.

Members Chuck Newton, Bill Stone, Jason Gomez and Chris Russo voted in favor of the wind ordinance; Chairman Stephen Brusini recused himself. The Town Council may consider the ordinance at its meeting Monday, June 9.

The council had approved a six-month moratorium on wind turbines last June, as a precautionary measure, while the Planning Department researched an ordinance. The council extended the moratorium another six months last December.

The ordinance approved by the Planning Board would restrict wind turbines to a total height of 100 feet and they would be allowed only in industrial zones, the Rocky Hill Fairgrounds Zone (the New England Tech property), Farm (F-2) zones and mixed-use development zones.

Just how tall is 100 feet?

large antenna

The antenna next to the School Department is 100 feet tall.

At the Planning Board meeting May 21, Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais presented photo examples of existing wind turbines in the state and various tall structures in East Greenwich, together with their actual heights. That presentation (which can be found here) included the wind turbine in North Kingstown off Ten Rod Road (450 feet tall) and the cell antenna next to the EG School Department and DPW (85 feet tall).

“The height we’re talking about is from the ground to the highest point of the blade turn,” said Bourbonnais May 21.

She originally crafted an ordinance with a 120-foot limit but Planning Board members argued that could be too tall.

“That seems high to me,” said member Bill Stone at the meeting May 7. “It struck me as, ‘Hey, that’s pretty tall.’ We don’t want to see industrial-looking stuff in this town.”

At the same time, members wondered if setting a height limit below 100 feet would in effect make it so restrictive as to effectively anyone from attempting to put up a turbine.

According to Bourbonnais, East Greenwich is not a particularly windy location, making it an unlikely candidate for any industrial wind generation, regardless of ordinance restrictions. But she did note that wind speed mapping for the area indicated a wind turbine of 30 meters (98 feet) would generate enough speed to make it viable for residential use.

Only residential property owners with at least 2 acres, however, would be able to erect a wind turbine. This is assuming the Town Council passes the ordinance as recommended, so stay tuned.

 

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