Guest Post by Michael Chambers (guest posts are moderated, but not approved or endorsed by the CCA Steering Committee)
On June 5, Larry LeBlanc stood before the Charlestown Zoning Board and about 250 of his neighbors offering to terminate his application on the proviso that scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that the two 410-foot wind turbines would adversely affect the health and welfare of nearby communities. It looked as if Mr. LeBlanc was holding out an olive branch to abutters, anti-Whale Rock proponents, and what seems like a clear majority of the residents of Charlestown.
I am not convinced of the man’s sincerity. The grandstand speech rang hollow to me. Surely, after all the work and funds spent on opposing this piece of lunacy, I would have welcomed even a glimmer of sincerity; however, as Mr. LeBlanc continued his oration, it became more and more apparent to me that he was grandstanding for the benefit of members of the Zoning Board.
There are several reasons why I am not convinced by Mr. LeBlanc and I don’t expect anything positive to come out of his camp. First, he stated that if scientific findings prove that the abutters and his neighbors would be adversely impacted, he would terminate his application. The Whale Rock application is replete with questionable science as reported by Applied Science Associates of South Kingstown and HMMH of Massachusetts. Even some of the engineering materials were questionable. For example, base maps were out of date (30 years old), measurements were made on maps not intended for site design, the engineers did not appear to understand how those maps were constructed, but used them to set up design measurements. So the site design numbers are likely faulty. The role of HMMH was simply one of accepting data and analyzing them without specific knowledge of how the data were collected. The data were subjected to a cookie-cutter software program (one size fits all) and conclusions were drawn and recommendations were made. Applied Science Associates collected most of the data, used some old wind data collected almost a decade before, did not use met tower data over a long period (1 year), and used photographs they took from behind trees and buildings to prove that the turbines could not be seen from several areas west of the project site. All these data were used to deny that these turbines would dominate the landscape, not have enough wind to be effective and efficient, produce excessive noise, and be a health hazard to the neighbors and wildlife. This is the science that Larry LeBlanc believes because his money created these “scientific” findings.
Another reason is that Mr. LeBlanc could not help himself but to puff out his chest and declare that he has the only vote that could terminate the application. In effect, he was telling the Zoning Board officials that they had no power over the application – only he had that power. So why are we even having the hearing at all? If LeBlanc intends not to abide by the Zoning Board’s vote, maybe Mr. Gorham has his brief already written to appeal a negative vote to the Superior Court. If this is the case and Larry LeBlanc concurs, his words are meaningless and hollow.
In his speech, LeBlanc said that he wants to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. He may as well spend all his money on a golden pail to try to reduce sea level rise. He has just as much chance to lower the ocean as he does to reduce the nation’s use of fossil fuels with two multi-million dollar wind turbines. Who is he trying to fool?
I don’t think anybody at that meeting swallowed LeBlanc’s insincere pronouncements. LeBlanc knows the unprincipled dealings that gave birth to his application; he knows how the wind ordinance was created and the part he played in its inception, and he understands that that same ordinance was created specifically to fit the physical dimensions of his property. How can he continue with this charade and expect people to believe in his sincerity.