Posted on Leave a comment

Council OKs Six Month Solar Moratorium

[CREDIT: Warwick City Council Livestream] The Warwick City Council voted unanimously on first passage for a six month solar moratorium in the city Oct. 18, 2021.

[CREDIT: Warwick City Council Livestream] The Warwick City Council voted unanimously on first passage for a six month solar moratorium in the city Oct. 18, 2021.
[CREDIT: Warwick City Council Livestream] The Warwick City Council voted unanimously on first passage for a six month solar moratorium in the city Oct. 18, 2021. Above, residents voice their support for a solar moratorium.
WARWICK, RI — Following the advice of Warwick City Solicitor Bill Walsh, the Warwick City Council voted unanimously on first passage for a six month solar moratorium on solar power installations in the city.

The moratorium, suggested during an earlier workshop on solar regulations in the city, must make a second passage at the Council’s next meeting Nov. 1, after which the moratorium will need to be noticed in local papers before it is considered to be in legal effect, said Walsh.

Walsh counseled going with six months, which he said would be easier to defend in court if the moratorium is challenged. He noted that the duration of the moratorium needs to be reasonable within the process. While additional time may be needed, he said, the Council will have adequate time to extend the moratorium if all the necessary work on a new solar ordinance is not complete or will not be complete by the end of six months.

“It can be extended via the same ordinance process,” Walsh advised.

“I will be docketing second passage of PCO 24-31 for Nov. 1,” said Council President Steve McAllister after the vote was recorded by City Clerk Lynn D’Abrosca.

Land Trust member Michael Zarum urged the council to amend the moratorium to nine months. He said that RI towns including Cranston had found they needed more than six months to properly study the rules for solar installations and draft a comprehensive ordinance.

“I just want to avoid needing to extend it,” Zarum said.

Earlier in the meeting, Councilman Jeremy Rix expressed support for a longer moratorium, noting Cranston wound up taking a year before lifting theirs.

“I do think it would be reasonable to have a nine-month moratorium,” Rix said, earning applause from the audience.

Councilman Ed Ladouceur was also in favor of a nine-month moratorium.

“I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Because what we’re talking about here isn’t just about solar panels. It’s about the future of our city. It’s about the future of our children,” Laouceur said.

But Walsh’s assessment that six months, with the opportunity to extend if needed, was more easily defensible in court, won out, and Ladouceur changed his mind.

Councilman Vinny Gebhardt was optimistic about the solar moratorium.

“This is good progress.” “It makes me feel like the public has been heard,” Gebhardt said, while giving officials enough time to come up with the right solution on a solar installs in the city.

Gebhardt said that a zoning variance couldn’t entirely be ruled out, “It’s well within their rights.” But, he added the comprehensive plan governs outcome of such challenges, so that should also be amended by City Planner during the solar moratorium.

The most recent draft of proposed solar regulations is posted to the City’s website.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

This is a test