2010-12-09 / Front Page

Council delays voting on turbine, harbor ordinance

By Phil Zahodiakin

The Jamestown Town Council was expected to vote on a preliminary expenditure for a study that could determine its final decision on a Taylor Point wind turbine during its Dec. 6 meeting, but some of the quotes for the prestudy work have not been submitted, so the issue is on hold until the next Council meeting.

The date of the next Council meeting has been moved up to Dec. 13 as an accommodation for the holidays. The preliminary work has two components: the preparation of a National Grid application for its estimate of interconnection costs, and a schematic design of the interconnection.

The first quote for this work was submitted as a range of $25,000 to $30,000, said Town Administrator Bruce Keiser. He added that he expects to have two additional bids in time for the Dec. 13 meeting.

The National Grid study is pivotal because, until the town knows what it will cost to hook up the turbine to the local grid – and upgrade some portion of the grid – it would be imprudent to issue construction bonds to finance the turbine.

But there is some urgency to launch the study because there is a deadline for the town to use the $750,000 in federal stimulus money awarded for the project. Under the deadline, the turbine must be built by March 2012, although Keiser is still waiting for the state energy office to let him know if the turbine must be fully functional by the deadline for the federal grant to be released.

In a related development, council member Ellen Winsor asked the Council to consider imposing a moratorium on wind turbine construction until the town can craft an ordinance to govern their size, noise and setback distances.

“I want to advocate for a moratorium, except for Taylor Point because it’s already on the table, and also for an ordinance, because it would help preserve our quality of life, our safety and our property values,” Winsor said.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero will draft moratorium language for the Council to consider, using as a template the moratorium language adopted by the Charlestown Town Council on Nov. 16 by a 3-2 vote.

Another vote that the Council slated for a future date involved a package of proposed revisions to the town’s Harbor Ordinance and Harbor Management Plan. The revisions include a signifi- cant change to the distribution of mooring fees.

Currently, marina-leasing fees paid to the town are earmarked for harbor-infrastructure work. Under the ordinance revisions, the funding available for this work would increase substantially by depositing one-half of nonresident mooring fees, one-half of commercial mooring fees, and all beach-permit and alcohol-permit fees in a capital fund for harbor projects.

The Council will hold a workshop on the ordinance and harborplan revisions on Jan. 4. A public hearing on the revisions will be held at the subsequent Council meeting, followed by a vote on their adoption.

Another workshop tentatively slated for January will focus on the findings of the recycling committee, which is looking at a “payas you-throw” option for residents using the transfer station for trash disposal.

In an unrelated product-stewardship development, Winsor proposed for adoption the verbiage of a Burrillville Town Council resolution supporting the enactment of state legislation to increase the responsibility of manufacturers for their product packaging.

Councilor Bill Murphy expressed support for extendedproducer responsibility legislation, but withheld support for the resolution until seeing the Framework Principals for Product Stewardship Policy referenced in the document. Councilors Schnack and Bob Bowen agreed, so a vote on the resolution won’t be taken until Dec. 13, assuming that all the councilors have had an opportunity to review the “principals” document.

During an update on the latest Congress of Councils meeting, which was held on Dec. 1, Keiser said that – because of turnover on many Narragansett Bay-area councils – several communities declined to take immediate positions on any “next steps” in the regional strategy against the liquefi ed natural gas terminal proposed for Mount Hope Bay.

Alluding to a recent report on Jamestown Threat Committee complaints about a Fall River delay in scheduling its plans to host the next Congress of Councils, Winsor said, “It’s important for everyone to remember that Fall River has spent $2.5 million in legal fees [to fight the LNG proposal]. As a result of their efforts, we don’t have an LNG facility going up in Narragansett Bay. So, it is important for people on committees to support – not criticize – Fall River.”

On the subject of the town’s pending search for a new police chief, Keiser informed the Council that he has received two bids from consultants offering to perform a study on police needs in Jamestown. The results of the study would inform any potential adjustments to patrols and administration that the town would want the new chief to implement.

Both consultants, Keiser said, “have a high degree of experience … but [the International City Management Association] would perform a more in-depth data review – and they have come in with a lower bid” than the Matrix Consulting Group.

Although the $16,500 bid from ICMA was $2,500 less than the Matrix bid, several councilors expressed a concern that the ICMA timeline is six weeks longer – and a new chief has to be selected by the end of May or early June. Keiser, however, assured the councilors that ICMA could provide interim data for the town to review, and that the formal search for a new chief could start, as planned, at the beginning of March. Consequently, the Council selected ICMA.

In other news:

• Keiser informed the Council that next week the Washington County Regional Planning Council will select a contractor for the energy efficiency audits to be performed for the members of the consortium. Keiser said that it was too early to say when Jamestown’s buildings will be audited because the schedule won’t be determined until a contractor is selected.

• Keiser also informed the Council that he has been unable to start the process of scheduling a meeting between the town, the Narragansett Indian Tribe and the state Historical Preservation Offi ce because a key state official has been unavailable. The meeting must be held, and the issue of potential tribal oversight resolved, before the town can use a state grant for infrastructure improvements under the Safe Routes to Schools program.

• The Council passed a resolution commending outgoing Conservation Commission Chairman Chris Powell for having taken the initiative to set up the commission, and for having served as a member and chair for 26 years. “Through his energetic efforts,” the resolution says, “Chris Powell has helped to form a pervasive conservation ethic among residents that will continue to influence and preserve the unique natural resources and character of this Island for many years to come.”

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