While the Rhode Island Superior Court decides on an appeal made by five individuals seeking legal intervenor status on the Block Island wind farm project, the court has asked the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to take no action until after Labor Day on Deepwater Wind’s permitting applications.
In May, the CRMC denied legal intervenor standing to eight applicants during Deepwater Wind’s permitting process. Some of the original applicants were not part of the appeal to the Superior Court, which is why the appellants numbered five instead of eight. The appeal was filed by attorney Terence Tierney on July 19.
Rosemary Patalano, a reporter for the R.I. Superior Court, said in an email to The Block Island Times, “There was a stipulation on the record on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, that ‘…the CRMC will not conduct any public hearings on the Deepwater Wind application until at least after Labor Day.’”
The CRMC agreed to this stipulation at a Superior Court hearing on July 23.
Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski told the Block Island Times that the post-Labor Day date was “roughly consistent” with what he had expected of the CRMC’s timeline anyway.
Deepwater Wind has submitted documents, including an Environmental Report (ER), for its public permitting process with various state and federal agencies. The CRMC is one of the main state agencies responsible for permitting the Block Island Wind Farm, which will then allow construction of the wind farm to move forward.
The five individuals that made the appeal were: Jon Ives, Rosemarie Ives, Katy Homans, John Lyons and Michael Beauregard. Michael and Maggie Delia, who own a home on Block Island, were two individuals who had applied for intervenor status but did not file for appeal with the Superior Court.
“As I understand it, a group of people appealed an earlier CRMC decision to disallow participation in the process to individuals and to declare the CRMC actions to date illegal,” said Michael Delia in a statement to the Block Island Times. “CRMC agreed that it will not conduct any hearings or make any rulings on this case until after Labor Day.”
Attorney Tierney issued the “complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief” to the Superior Court on July 19.
The complaint said, “Plaintiffs seek equitable and legal remedies, including reversal of a final administrative agency decision, declaratory and injunctive relief, and an award of attorney’s fees.”
It also said that, “The OSAMP [Ocean Special Area Management Plan] Subcommittee’s [a CRMC subcommittee] vote to deny Intervenor status to the Plaintiffs in this contested case was a violation of the APA [Administrative Procedures Act], and beyond its legal authority, because … Plaintiffs met the standard for intervention, and at the time of the vote CRMC was acting on incomplete and defective applications, and pursuant to a defective Public Notice.”
The complaint also said that Deepwater’s application fees had not been paid at the time of the CRMC subcommittee vote, which is why the complaint called the application “incomplete.”
The complaint lists each individual’s reason for appeal, including “loss of property value” for the Ives’, Homans and Beauregard. For John Lyons, it said, “The installation of the transmission line will reduce its value and interfere with the use and enjoyment of his property and public resources such as Narragansett Town Beach.”
Grybowski issued a statement that focused on the appeal of the five people seeking intervenor status: “We remain confident that the CRMC’s earlier decision on this issue will be upheld. These individuals, just like any other citizens, have the opportunity to provide comments on the project to government agencies, but they should not expect to receive the special treatment they’re requesting. In fact, the CRMC has already determined that these individuals do not have any special standing to intervene in the permitting process. We continue to press forward with our project and are confident that the court will agree with the CRMC.”
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