Legal battle over Coventry solar development ends after parties reach settlement

Updated at 3:31 p.m. on Sept. 15, 2020.

GREEN DEVELOPMENT CEO and founder Mark DePasquale has reached a settlement agreement with the town of Coventry that will let his proposed solar array move forward. / PBN FILE PHOTO / DAVE HANSEN

COVENTRY – After a protracted legal battle over a proposed solar development in western Coventry, the town and the project developer announced on Tuesday that they have agreed drop all lawsuits and will let the project move forward.

Under the settlement agreement, Green Development LLC will pay Coventry $802,000 in exchange for the town giving the green light on a 3.75-megawatt solar array in western Coventry.

The two sides have been at odds since 2017, when the town Planning Commission denied the developer’s request for a special use permit for the project, ecoRI News reported. The commission at the time said the project, planned for a low-density residential zone, was not consistent with town zoning ordinances and its comprehensive plan, a decision upheld by its Zoning Board of Review.

Mark DePasquale, CEO and founder of Green Development, challenged the decision in a series of lawsuits, and in January announced plans to seek $80 million in damages against the town.

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DePasquale, whose company has been embroiled in multiple lawsuits with various municipalities over opposition to solar projects, framed the settlement agreement as a “fresh start.”

We now have an opportunity to be true partners with Coventry, develop meaningful renewable energy projects and bring much needed revenue to the town’s coffers during these challenging times,” DePasquale said in a statement.

“We will fully embrace all elements of this agreement and are glad to be able to secure a major financial boost for the town,” Town Council President Kerry McGee also said in a statement.

As a result of mediation, both parties have dropped all claims and agreed not to sue or participate in future litigation, the release stated. The project will still require detailed review by the town planner and other town officials, and must adhere to town regulations.

The size and scope of the proposed project remain unchanged from what was originally submitted, despite the town’s concerns, according to Bill Fischer, a spokesman for Green Development.

The company remains in a legal dispute with the town of Exeter over its objections to another proposed solar array, and is seeking $200 million in damages from the town.

“However, we remain hopeful that officials in Exeter will see how productive and efficient the Coventry mediation process was for all concerned parties and consider the same path,” Fischer said in a statement.

The town of Coventry could not be immediately reached for additional comment.

This story has been updated to include comment from company spokesman Bill Fischer.

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