Unauthorized Coventry Solar Project Ordered to Stop Work

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

Coventry Town Council member Ann Dickson tweeted this photo of the property and the pilings on June 4. The post has since been deleted.

Coventry Town Council member Ann Dickson tweeted this photo of the property and the pilings on June 4. The post has since been deleted.

COVENTRY, R.I. — The Department of Planning & Development recently issued a cease-and-desist order to an unauthorized solar installation off Carr’s Trail.

The June 4 notice issued to 394 Carr’s Realty LLC and WED Coventry Seven LLC — a subsidiary of North Kingstown-based Green Development LLC, formerly Wind Energy Development LLC, founded by Mark DePasquale — claims a recent site inspection by two members of the Department of Planning & Development found “hundreds of piles had been driven into the ground commencing construction of a proposed solar generating facility that had been denied development plan approval by the Coventry Planning Commission” two years ago.

The town order noted that the project — the site is identified as plat 315, lots 37.1 and 37.5 — hasn’t received development, engineering, or building approval.

The parties were ordered to begin removing the pilings within five days of the notice’s date and to compete the removal of all pilings within 20 days.

This isn’t the first time DePasquale has disregarded the permitting process.

In September 2017, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) issued a notice of violation to 394 Carr’s Trail Realty LLC (Mark and June DePasquale) for altering freshwater wetlands on plat 315, lots 37.1 and 58 on the Coventry site.

In mid-December 2016, DEM agents met with Mark DePasquale to discuss freshwater wetland violations on lot 58 that are the subject of a separate enforcement case, according to the agency’s notice of violation. At the time, DePasquale informed the agents that he intended to buy lot 37.1, which abuts lot 58, and turn the property into farmland. The agents advised DePasquale of freshwater wetlands on the northeast portion of that lot and told him he should have the wetlands flagged and verified by DEM before he did any work.

About two weeks later, DEM received a notification of intent to cut, signed by DePasquale’s agent, Brian Palumbo, of some 25 acres of trees. In early January 2017, a DEM agent met with Palumbo at the property and advised him to stay away from the wetlands on the northeast portion of the lot.

On Jan. 26 of that year, a DEM inspection of the property revealed that the wetlands on the northeast portion of lot 37.1 were altered, along with wetlands on the southwest corner of the lot. DePasquale was told to stop all work within the wetlands.

When another DEM inspection of the property, on Feb. 24, revealed additional alterations to the wetlands within the northeast portion of lot 37.1, DEM issued a written cease-and-desist order to a DePasquale employee, Paul Correia, general superintendent for Green Development. The document ordered a stop to all activities within freshwater wetlands on the property. Correia signed the order, according to DEM.

Two months later, on April 11, a DEM inspection of the property revealed additional alterations to the wetlands within the northeast portion of lot 37.1.

DEM’s three site inspections in 2017 — Jan. 26, Feb. 24, and April 11 — found nearly 2 acres of freshwater wetlands had been cleared, stumped, excavated, filled, and graded.

Nearly a month after the notice of violation was issued, the DePasquales signed a consent agreement that ordered them to remove fill material (wood chips), plant trees and shrubs, and seed and stabilize all disturbed areas within the wetlands.

The DePasquales were also fined $40,000.

The only remaining issue under the consent is plant survivability, according to DEM.

In January 2018, DEM’s Office of Water Resources issued a permit for a ground-mounted solar installation for lots 37.1 and 37.5. The project never received local approval.