Hearing on shellfish farm proposal postponed

Waterford — A local shellfish farmer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed Friday to postpone by 60 days a public hearing on a farmer's proposal to grow juvenile shellfish in 6 acres of the Niantic River.

The hearing, initially set for Dec. 7 at Waterford Town Hall, concerns farmer Tim Londregan's effort to grow scallops and oysters in the Niantic River before moving them into Niantic Bay.

Londregan has said the proposal would allow him to expand his business while improving the ecological health of a river that's yielded inconsistent shellfish crops for years.

Londregan and the Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission established an agreement in 2016 that accommodated the expansion and created a parcel outside the six designated shellfishing areas created in 2002. But the commission rescinded the agreement earlier this month, as it wasn't vetted by East Lyme or Waterford town officials, the Waterford Harbor Management Commission or in a public hearing.

Some local homeowners and business owners have argued placing shellfishing equipment in the area could make the river unsafe for boaters or hurt tourism to Mago Point and Niantic.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which issued a public notice in August, says an Army Department permit is required for Londregan's proposal per the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

In addition to holding the public hearing, Waterford town officials say the harbor commission will be consulted and will publicly advertise possible policy changes.

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