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New London — Those who live in the city, and those who one day move into the proposed Village on the Thames in Fort Trumbull, could enjoy more access to the waterfront.
Riverbank Construction, which is expected to build 99 residential units on the former Naval Undersea Warfare Center property, wants to construct a dock to provide access to boat moorings in Columbia Cove.
The City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to allow Riverbank, headed by Robert Stillman, to put up the dinghy dock on waterfront just off the Fort Trumbull peninsula.
Under state law, anyone can apply for a permit from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to put a mooring in the cove. With a dinghy dock in place, it would be easier for boaters to access those moorings.
No boats are moored in the cove because there is nowhere to put a boat in the water to get to a mooring.
"There's no guarantee this will happen,'' said Council President Michael Passero, who supported the plan. "But the Stillmans will get all the permits, and pay to develop the plans and construct it. There is no expense to the city. The city can only benefit."
If the city ever decided to establish a water taxi service to connect Fort Trumbull with the downtown waterfront, the dock could be expanded, he said.
Councilor John Maynard voted against the proposal, saying he did not want to give away the waterfront.
"I agree it may be a win-win for the city, but it may be a win-win for the developer, too,'' Maynard said. "I'm not supporting this because I think we should be charging for it. We cannot keep giving the city away and expect taxpayers to foot the bill."
But Passero said the city is not giving anything away but is gaining water access for residents.
"We are only agreeing here to move forward for access (to the water) for individuals,'' Passero said. "We are not losing any control."
The Planning & Zoning Commission has approved special permits and a coastal site plan review for the proposed $18 million to $20 million Village on the Thames project. It will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units and parking for 217 vehicles.