Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Killer Windmills

and the zoning boards who love them............................................

More than ever, I am concerned with Fall River's political machine (Bob Correia + Zoning Board) irresponsibly giving the city away.

I have always been excited by the ecologically friendly benefits of windmills. Most people will agree that alternative energy is increasingly, fiscally and environmentally responsible. However, with all proposed constructions in the city I am ultimately concerned with responsible siting of the projects and the safety of the residents.

The Fall River Zoning Board has been notorious for allowing the over development of many lots in the city. I can overlook the fact that over 95% of the variances granted by the Fall River Zoning Board would be judicially overturned on appeal because they are not 1.) an undue hardship on the variance requester and 2.) not going to depreciate neighboring property value in any way. HOWEVER, I cannot overlook the fact that the Zoning Board granted approval to "developers" Roland Patenaude and his sidekick Karen Charette to build turbines up to 350 feet high, including the 50-foot radius of the blades on Bedford Street.

The largely unqualified Zoning Board granted permission for the building of these 350 foot windmills without acknowledging that the FAA has oversight of any object that could have an impact on the navigable airspace. The FAA requires that a Notice of Proposed Construction be filed for any object that would extend more than 200 feet above ground level. The proposed wind turbine heights have increased during the past couple of decades, this filing requirement has applied to increasing numbers of projects.

This is what a 350 foot structure, in a larger city than Fall River, looks like

Windmills are not like the garage additions that are regularly approved at Zoning Board Meetings. They are giant, potentially dangerous, and need to be regulated by the city (regulations that would hopefully include responsible siting standards).

Fall River employee/Superstar, Kenneth "how do I still have a job" Fiola Jr., executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, said he believes the "ZBA needs to look at neighborhood improvements and benefits of wind turbine power versus safety and aesthetic impacts." Great - Ken is so concerned with getting a business in the city for once in his career that he is willing to compromise safety and aesthetics!

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