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CHARLESTOWN â€“ The Charlestown Zoning Board held a second public hearing last Wednesday, another in what is expected to be a series of several, as the zoning board determines whether to allow Whalerock Renewable Energy LLC to erect two wind turbines in the town.
Turnout was still fairly strong at the latest meeting.
The meeting began with Larry LeBlanc, owner and developer of Whalerock, coming before the zoning board asking whether he has the right to withdraw his application at anytime.
LeBlanc is applying for a special use permit, what has turned into a three-year process, to construct two 262-foot wind turbines to be located on an 81-acre parcel north of Route 1 and bordered by Kings Factory Road.
In April, the Superior Court ruled that the zoning board must hear LeBlancâ€™s case for a permit.
Charlestown Town Solicitor Robert Craven said LeBlanc does in fact have the right to withdraw his application.
â€śI ask because of concern among my neighbors and my friends that this project could be harmful to the public health,â€ť LeBlanc said. â€śI want to tell you that in fact, if that is the case, I reserve the right to withdraw this application because I believe it would be my responsibility as a citizen to do so.â€ť
LeBlanc said he is only trying to do what federal, state and town governments are telling citizens to do, which is to create and use renewable energy sources.
â€śThe power of wind, which is a national movement, is in great abundance on my property,â€ť he said. â€śPlease remember I was asked by the town to do this and they amended the comprehensive plan to allow this and zoning ordinance to allow it.â€ť
LeBlanc claimed that an attorney opposing the project wrote the zoning ordinance and even defended it in court.
â€śI applied because I wanted to do something good for the town and for our country,â€ť LeBlanc said. â€śThrough my application I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to design and then study this project, this type of energy and the equipment used to make sure it is state of the art equipment, the best you can by.â€ť
LeBlanc continued, â€śI pledge to you all that I will continue with this project until every one of you has had a chance to have your concerns about safety addressed. If this project is not safe, I promise you and I pledge that I will withdraw my application and I have the one vote in this room, no one else, I have the one vote to withdraw that application. I can do that, and I will do that but the science has to have the proof, the unshakable facts, to convince me, because Iâ€™m at risk here with my neighbors.â€ť
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the latest issue of the Chariho Times.