During public commentary at the Burrillville Town Council meeting Wednesday night, two real estate agents talked about the negative effect the proposed gas and oil burning Clear River Energy Center is already having on property values in the town.
Jeremy Bailey, from Acumen Group Real Estate, testified that he recently had a prospective buyer from Riverside about to put half down on a $449,000 piece of property on East Wallum Lake Road.
“He liked everything about the property,” said Bailey, “But before the conversation ended he asked, ‘Where are they putting the power plant?’”
Bailey pointed up the road and explained that the proposed construction wasn’t too far away. By the time he finished the buyer backed out, saying, “Nah, I’m not interested anymore.”
After the meeting Bailey told me that the buyer told him to let him know how the March 31 public hearing on the power plant goes.
Paul Lefebvre, another realtor and owner of Acumen Group, testified that when he heard about the proposed plant two years ago, he didn’t think much about it. He couldn’t see any way that the Town Council might support such a plan. But recently he learned that the power plant has the support of both Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Governor Gina Raimondo, and it now appears the power plant is being “forced on the town.”
“Which is insanity,” said Lefebvre, “I don’t see any benefits for the town. I see all detriments. Nothing good, only bad.”
Speaking about the effect the proposed power plant is having on property values, Lefebvre said, “We’ve lost some interest and lost one sale at the company I own because of the talk, the perception, of this thing coming to town.”
“What surprises me,” said Burrillville native and retired schoolteacher Chuck Boucher, “is that the political system seems to have cut us out of the process. I was under the impression that we were a democracy… I would like to think that when Governor Raimondo hears the situation out here that she realizes that it will adversely affect everyone’s property values. It will adversely affect everyone’s health. It will adversely affect the community at large. I would like to believe that she cares enough about her constituents to reconsider locating something of this size in a rural area that’s known for being pristine.”
Kathy Martley, founder of Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion (BASE), asked the Burrillville Town Council to consider a resolution similar to the one Providence City Councillor Seth Yurdin submitted to the Providence City Council last week that was adopted unanimously. Yurdin was concerned about the health, environmental and safety effects of the proposed Fields Point Liquefaction facility to be located in South Providence.
“As a Burrillville resident and tax payer, I urge you to pass the same resolution to stop this project,” said Martley, until health, environmental and safety studies are done.
Jeremy Bailey pointed out that the power plant wants to tap into the town well and the sewer system. “At a minimum,” said Bailey, the Town Council could speak to state and federal agencies and ask them to, “hold off on entertaining or approving” the power plant.
In the past the Burrillville Town Council has claimed to be powerless against the corporate might of multi-billion dollar fossil fuel companies like Invenergy and Spectra, but as Martley, Bailey and other residents speaking before the Town Council last night pointed out, there is plenty that can be done on a local level.
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Video of all who testified on the proposed power plant here: