Solar ordinance could have long range negative impact – Warwick Beacon

To the Editor:

This is part of a letter I had written to each of the City Council members in hope they would reconsider the amended version of the Solar Ordinance they had approved in June’s meeting; and to also put a moratorium on all new solar construction farms on parcels in or around residential property. I am not opposed to each home or business having solar panels, but I am against solar farms anywhere close to designated residential properties.

The Warwick Land Trust has been actively involved with the writing of the Solar Ordinance and has worked closely with Luke Murray in the Warwick Planning Department. He has been very open to our concerns and has incorporated many of our ideas into the plan; however, there are many points we have discussed that are still not in the ordinance or amendments that we feel still need to be included.

The number one concern is the erecting of solar panels and farms in residential areas. We are strapping our next generation of a visual for 35 years of a field of ugly panels that in vision of their homes. In 35 years, this next generation will have to look at what has been allowed to be built and then must rid it of the contaminates you have permitted. Why do we want to force this upon them?

The second biggest concern is the allowance of trees to be clear-cut and destroyed to erect the field of panels. Are you not defeating the purpose of “climate change” and “carbon sink?” Trees are how we filter the carbon from the air and produce oxygen, the very thing that is required to keep our air pure and clean. Rhode Island is losing more forests in residential areas due to clear-cutting of these forests. Again, for generations to come, you are destroying the very thing that keeps our air and climate fit for a healthy life.

The third thing is the clearing of our older forests, or old growth trees. Warwick has some of the oldest trees in all New England and the Warwick Land Trust has been documenting their existence and locations. Most of these trees are extinct from existence because of previous diseases and blights. Scientists from around the world are very interested in our rare finds and we as a land trust are seeking the ownership/conservation easement of these properties for preservation and education. One property over near the YMCA has been sold to a developer who is asking to be permitted to allow a solar farm to be constructed. Someone has already started girdling the old trees to kill them. The same thing holds true with another property previously owned by the Beagle Club, and that backs up to a residential neighborhood.

It appears that the council and Planning have a legal concern that when developer owns a piece of property, they cannot tell them what they can and cannot do with their land, when in fact that is exactly what an ordinance does. You need to control what is being destroyed and start thinking ahead to what you are doing to the generations to come, your grandchildren and your great grandchildren, is this what you want to obliterate? If it was close to your own house, would you feel comfortable with the devastation?

I am speaking as the chairman of the Land Trust, concerned citizen, mother, grandmother and resident for you to seriously consider putting a two-year moratorium on permitting any solar farms until the Solar Ordinance has been properly amended and all concerns are met. There is no reason why you must allow a developer to destroy and clear-cut undeveloped land to build a solar farm when in less than 10-years new technology will make the panels obsolete.

We ask that each of you get involved, contact your City Council person and express your concern or opinion on this issue and remember, you are allowing City Council to decide on how they will destroy our trees and forests for the next generation. If you ever want to see what Warwick could look like in a few short months, drive over to Portsmouth and see how they cut down hundreds of trees in the Village of Portsmouth so solar could be installed, it has destroyed a beautiful village of its charm.

While you are writing to the City Council also complain how they have allowed all the trees in a small forest to be clear-cut on a less than seven-acre parcel so they can have 77 small homes be built; this is after they changed the zoning from a light industrial zone to a residential zone. This means you will have approximately 2.5 cars for each family (192 cars), plus the small house and a little grass on less than seven acres, with nowhere to absorb rainfall or for trees to grow. Do not call yourself an environmentalist if you do not get involved.

Leslie Derrig
Chair of the Warwick Land Trust


July 8, 2021 Mary Sparks