Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 01-09-2020

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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6 NORTH SMITHFIELD JANUARY 9-15, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION NORTH SMITHFIELD – A debate over whether a requirement related to tree planting would remain in the town's new solar ordinance this week highlighted just how divided the town has become over a seem- ingly small piece of its development policy. Last month, the Town Council approved a new ordinance govern- ing the installation of commercial solar farms. The vote came after a two-month moratorium requested by the Planning Board in an attempt to halt new development as they reviewed the town's policies. The ensuing debate pitted environmental- ists against those in favor of greater economic development as officials attempted to strike a balance in a town that's seen significant interest from solar companies. In one of the more controversial measures of the new ordinance, councilors narrowly voted to include a clause that allows the town to require solar developers to replace cleared trees on a one-to-one basis. The clause had the support of the Planning Board but drew concerns from Town Administrator Gary Ezovski and Town Council President Paul Vadenais, who argued it would be impractical to implement. After several hours of debate, an attempt to remove the clause failed on a 3-2 vote, with Vadenais and Councilor Teresa Bartomioli voting to remove it and Councilors Claire O'Hara, Douglas Osier Jr. and Paul Zwolenski voting to keep it in. On Monday, several residents and councilors were taken aback when O'Hara indicated she wanted to reconsider her vote. Speaking to the council, she said she'd received calls from people unhappy with the new ordinance. Among the main con- cerns, she said, was the tree replace- ment clause, a requirement that doesn't apply to any other type of development. "Why should the town have that type of power over something that I pay taxes on diligently?" she said. "I'm not doing anything to destroy the town, and it's not being done for everyone." The comments prompted a tense exchange with Osier, who said it was "embarrassing" the town would even reconsider the measure. "What kind of message are we sending about the future of North Smithfield? It's a one-to-one tree replacement. Again, if a developer does not want to follow our ordinanc- es, why are we letting them develop here?" he said. Despite the back-and-forth, the measure was allowed to stand. After raising additional questions, O'Hara decided to keep her vote the same and voted for the second time to include it as part of the solar ordi- nance. The vote came after Jeffrey Porter, a member of the Planning Board, defended the clause for the second time in two months. According to Porter, the new ordi- nance does not automatically require solar companies to replace all trees cleared for a project. Instead, he said, it allows the town to request it of larger projects that don't comply with size limits. In these cases, he argued, the town could use it to fund new trees at locations they might already be looking to plant them, such as Pacheco Park, the former Halliwell property or along Main Street. "Just think of any place in town that could potentially use trees. It comes at no cost with a one-to-one replacement," he said. Councilors voted along the same lines, keeping the tree replacement clause in the new ordinance by a 3-2 vote. After tense exchange, solar ordinance remains as is By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTOS BY BILL MURPHY PAUL LECLERC, right, of North Smithfield, delivers old laptops to LARRY ROBINSON, left, a worker for Indie Cycle LLC, at the North Smithfield electron- ics waste drop-off. Indie's motto is "Every day is Earth day." Recycling responsibly Larry Robinson of INDIE CYCLE LLC, sorts through the collection of items at the electronics waste drop-off. Indie Cycle LLC, the company handling the recycling for the town, just surpassed 1150 pounds of trash this year. e Villa at Saint Antoine e Ultimate in Assisted Living 401-767-2574 www.stantoine.net e Villa at Saint Antoine e Ultimate in Assisted Living 401-767-2574 www.stantoine.net 401-766-7583 RI 508-883-2980 MA Family Owned Since 1955 Call now to take advantage of our Roll-Off Special 15 yd. Roll Off Container with 2 ton weight limit Only $360 For home clean-outs ONLY • No demo or construction Now through 1/31/2020

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