NEWS

Mayor favors solar moratorium pending passage of ordinance

Posted 10/14/21

By ALEX MALM An ordinance to set standards for solar developments in Warwick won't likely be considered by the City Council for at least another two weeks and quite possibly for several months. Earlier this summer the City Council gave first passage to

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NEWS

Mayor favors solar moratorium pending passage of ordinance

Posted

An ordinance to set standards for solar developments in Warwick won’t likely be considered by the City Council for at least another two weeks and quite possibly for several months.

Earlier this summer the City Council gave first passage to an ordinance drafted by the previous administration. When it came up for second passage, the council faced opposition and concerns from individuals, prompting Mayor Frank Picozzi to request the council table the ordinance until he could bring on a new Planning Director following the departure of Principal Planner Lucas Murray. 

Last Wednesday Picozzi and the new Planning Director Tom Kravitz held a community-based workshop to discuss the proposed ordinance and to solicit feedback from the community. 

“We got a lot of good input at the meeting, we have to absorb it and start crafting it,” Picozzi said about the ordinance.

One suggestion made by some in attendance was to implement a temporary moratorium on solar development in Warwick until passage of an ordinance. 

“I’m not opposed to a moratorium. The whole thing is if they (developers) applied right now we’re exposed we don’t have any standards to hold them to,” Picozzi said Tuesday.  “We need to have standards and guidelines,” he added. 

Picozzi confirmed the city can’t retroactively enact an ordinance meaning that if a developer filed plans for a solar project before either a new ordinance was passed or a moratorium went into effect they wouldn’t be subject to those rules and regulations. 

As for projects currently in the works, Picozzi said Tuesday that the City hasn’t received any formal applications at this time.

“No one has submitted anything to us,” he said

Council President Steve McAllister said Tuesday he’s going to recommend to his colleagues that they withdraw the ordinance currently on the floor during their Oct.18 meeting. If they approve that recommendation it means they won’t have a public hearing on it that night. 

He said that amending the proposed ordinance on the floor in order to make the changes recommended by Kravitz would be too difficult and could become problematic. 

“Since the administration is putting together a brand new ordinance we should just withdraw what we currently have and start over,” he said. 

He explained that when the administration is ready with their new ordinance he will have it docketed on the Council agenda on their behalf and they would go through the normal process for enacting a new ordinance, which would include a public hearing and two votes by the Council. 

McAllister said Picozzi is likely going to send him a request for a moratorium for the Council to vote on, but isn’t sure at this time what the specifics would look like. 

“We’re going to look at something that puts a hold on solar until the new solar ordinance is ready to go,” he said. 

Since it would be coming from the administration he said, “the timeline is on their end.”

Councilman Vincent Gebhart, who was in attendance for the solar workshop, said that he was in favor of not taking a vote on the ordinance in front of them on Monday. 

“Based on the likelihood there will be substantive amendments before the 18th my recommendation is to hold off on a public hearing or vote,” he said.

“Rather than hear the Sub B on Oct.18 as planned, my recommendation is that we wait until we have a next draft with community input integrated.  We should provide our colleagues and the public 30 days from the final draft being prepared to consider it before bringing it to the council for a vote.  Let's get this right, there is no need to rush.”

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