Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 08-08-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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4 NORTH SMITHFIELD / BUSINESS AUGUST 8-14, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NO. SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET Douglas Pike residents push back, but solar project wins a nod NORTH SMITHFIELD – In a show of opposition that's becoming a repeat scenario in town, a group of residents are pushing back against a renewable energy project in their neighborhood, this time a solar farm proposed between Douglas and Providence Pikes. Sergio DeCurtis, a landowner who lives on a portion of the property at 2361 Providence Pike, has submitted plans to build a 900-kilowatt solar farm on approximately 3.3 acres in a larger, 29-acre lot. As part of the project DeCurtis plans to subdivide the property to build the array on the western portion closer to Douglas Pike while keeping his home on the eastern side near Providence Pike. In a hearing before the Planning Board last Thursday, Aug. 1, where the board narrowly voted to move the project forward, DeCurtis and a team of engineers assured members that the project, located within a rural- agricultural zone on the Smithfield line, would include a 100-foot setback from any neighboring properties. The project, located in the woods, would also include an additional tree buffer to partially screen it from observers. The presentation did little to quell the fears of neighbors such as Nicole Waybright, a Smithfield resident who lives just over the town line. Waybright raised concerns about fire hazards and development in a "quiet, serene area" she said had been home to her and other neighbors for more than 15 years. "It's totally greenwashing. It's an environmental argument to support a project for profit where it doesn't belong," she said. Other neighbors, including Kirk and Laurie Magnussen of Providence Pike, contested DeCurtis's claim that they wouldn't be able to see the develop- ment from their properties, prompting a terse exchange that had Planning Board Chairman Gary Palardy step- ping in as referee. The neighbors and the developer also clashed over the environmental merits of the project, citing opposite research about the amount of carbon emissions offset by solar farms constructed in formerly wooded areas. DeCurtis, who has owned the land since 1995, defended the project, tell- ing board members it would have a minimal impact on surrounding properties. The North Smithfield resi- dent owns a total of 49 acres on both sides of the town line and argued the proposal would be relatively small compared with other development options. "I'm approached at least twice a month by developers who would like to buy the entire parcel and pump a street right through from Douglas Pike to Providence Pike and put 25 houses in there," he said. The board was divided on the project, but ultimately sided with the landowner in a 3-2 vote that saw members Michael Fournier, Richard Keene and David Punchak voting in favor of advancing it to the next stage of the approval process and Chairman Palardy and member Jeffrey Porter voting against. The board also issued a positive recommendation to the Zoning Board but included a long list of conditions for the project, including compliance with the town's noise ordi- nance, review by the Fire Department, a $27,000 decommissioning bond, a tree buffer that goes all the way around the solar arrays and approval by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The project will now go to the Zoning Board to seek a special use permit before returning to the Planning Board for final approval. By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com A map submitted to the North Smithfield Planning Board shows the location of a 900-KILOWATT SOLAR FARM proposed for land between Douglas and Providence Pikes in relation to other landmarks in town. Guay joins United Way of Rhode Island PROVIDENCE –United Way of Rhode Island has announced that Marlene Guay of Woonsocket has been named the newest member of UWRI's Community Investment team as the grants and initiatives manager for expanded learning. In her role, she oversees United Way's work on children's develop- ment and education, including early childhood, summer, and afterschool learning. Guay most recently worked for the Museum of Science in Boston as a professional development manager. Previously, she was the early learning program developer for Providence Children's Museum. Guay holds a Bachelor of Science degree in human development and family studies from the University of Rhode Island, and a Rhode Island Teacher Certificate for pre-kindergar- ten through second grade. Jarret honored by R.I. Bar Association NORTH SMITHFIELD – Attorney Aram P. Jarret Jr. of North Smithfield was honored by the Rhode Island Bar Association at its annual meeting on June 14 in rec- ognition of 50 years of outstanding service to the legal profession and to the Bar Association. A graduate of Classical High School, the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown Law School, Jarret was admitted to the practice of law in Rhode Island in June of 1969. While engaging in the general practice of law in Northern Rhode Island, Jarret served as the prosecutor for the city of Woonsocket for 18 years, as bail commissioner for the State of Rhode Island, and as the Probate Judge for the town of North Smithfield. He has also been serving as the Municipal Court Judge for the town of North Smithfield since the court's inception in 2010. A North Smithfield resident, attor- ney Jarret is the father of four chil- dren, grandfather to seven children, and is currently practicing law with his son, Jay. He is a member of the Woonsocket Rotary Club and a mem- ber of the adult choir at St. John's Church in North Smithfield. BankRI hosting food drive for area food banks PROVIDENCE – As summer enters its final weeks, food pantries across the state are preparing for the high demand they experience during September. In an effort to help emergency food programs re-stock their shelves, Bank Rhode Island branches statewide are host- ing a food drive through Sept. 20. In Lincoln and Woonsocket, the bank's local branches will collect in support of the Connecting for Children & Families food pantry, with all donations going to help feed area residents. During the drive, food collection bins will be placed in each BankRI branch lobby for donations of non- perishable items. The family- and kid-friendly foods most needed by pantries include, peanut butter, nutritious breakfast cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, boxed maca- roni and cheese, and whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce. Along with the food collected in its branches, BankRI has com- mitted a $4,500 contribution to the Food Bank on behalf of its food pantry partners. The gift will provide each pantry a grant to pur- chase additional food through the Food Bank's leveraged acquisition program at the times they need it most. The BankRI Lincoln branch is located at 625-B George Washington Highway, and the Woonsocket branch is located at 1175 Cumberland Hill Road. For hours of operation, visit www. BankRI.com/locations . thank you for supporting our Valley Breeze advertisers. They make this free newspaper possible! 820 Cumberland Hill Rd. 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