To the Editor: After four years of controversy, broken promises, and destruction of woodlands, the City Council voted unanimously to ban medium and large ground-based solar projects in Western Cranston's A-80 residential zone. Small accessory projects
To the Editor:
After four years of controversy, broken promises, and destruction of woodlands, the City Council voted unanimously to ban medium and large ground-based solar projects in Western Cranston’s A-80 residential zone. Small accessory projects are allowed in the district with a special permit, not by right.
Now, less than six months after that vote, the Planning Department, property owners, and their lawyer are before the council trying to bulldoze a loophole that will allow owners to receive a variance to ignore the setback and height requirements for their systems.
According to reports, the Cranston County Club situated on 177 acres needs this loophole to allow a 24-foot setback for a project on Burlingame Road where 60 feet is required. By comparison, the Hope Road solar project is setback 75 feet.
The Cranston Country Club is a Special Redevelopment Area, according to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. While the underlying zoning (A-80) controls, the Comp Plan states that the SRA includes “[a]reas in which the City believes that the current land use is appropriate but the existing zoning is not appropriate such as the Alpine Country Club, the Cranston Country Club.” So if the A-80 zoning district is not appropriate for the country club, what is?
The council voted in 2015 to allow solar by right in Western Cranston without seeing any plans or having a realistic understanding of what could happen. They learned by experience and education that they made a mistake. They should not make the same mistake again. The owners and their attorney should go before the public and the council to present their plans before any changes are made to the zoning ordinance. The council should reject this attempt to get around the existing standards.