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New London granted intervenor status in State Pier hearing

New London — The city has been granted intervening party status in a hearing on the permitting process for the Connecticut Port Authority’s plans for State Pier.

The decision comes as negotiations on a host community agreement, between the city and big players in the more than $150 million redevelopment project, have stalled. That has left New London without much of a voice in major decisions regarding the site and without what Mayor Michael Passero has called “a fair share" of compensation for the property, which is exempt from local taxes.

The port authority seeks to fill in the space between two pier structures on the New London waterfront as part of plans by the state and its partners, Danish company Ørsted and utility Eversource, to create a wind turbine assembly site for offshore wind farms. Proposed work includes “site improvements, dredging, the installation of a sheet pile bulkhead between the existing Admiral Shear State Pier and the Central Vermont Railroad Pier, placement of the dredged material within this area located between the (piers) with additional placement of on-site upland soils for the creation of a central wharf to be used for marine commercial and industrial use,” according to a public notice on the permit application filed with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“The proposed activities will affect aquatic and coastal resources of the Thames River,” it says.

The city on Jan. 29 had filed an amended request to intervene in the permit application hearing. DEEP hearing officer Brendan Schain granted the request Friday, noting that state statutes allow coastal communities the right to participate in any hearing before the commissioner "concerning any permit or license to be issued by said commissioner for an activity occurring within the coastal boundary of the municipality. ..."

Passero shared the decision with The Day on Saturday night.

“There is no excuse for the Connecticut Port Authority to press on with its Harbor Development Agreement while its partners, Ørsted and Eversource, have failed to meet their obligation to negotiate an equitable community host agreement with the City of New London,” he wrote in an email statement. “My administration will exercise every avenue of legal redress to prevent further economic damage to the city by the CPA and to ensure that the city’s residents are not forced to subsidize the corporate profits of CPA’s private sector partners through the exploitation of a city asset.”

He said the city securing the right to intervene in the hearing is a "first step." Permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DEEP are crucial to making the State Pier transformation a reality.

Day Staff Writer Greg Smith contributed to this report.

j.meyers@theday.com

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