PROVIDENCE – A Superior Court judge has denied an appeal by opponents to a proposed offshore wind farm near Block Island who were seeking legal intervenor status in the state permitting process for the project.
Judge Michael A. Silverstein on Wednesday ruled that the Coastal Resources Management Council “rightfully denied” intervenor status to the individuals, who include four people with homes on Block Island and one Narragansett resident.
The council voted in May to affirm a subcommittee decision that concluded that the five plaintiffs – Jon Ives, Rosemarie Ives, Katy Ives, Michael Beauregard and John Lyons – as well as three other objectors had failed to demonstrate “particularized” harm from the five-turbine wind farm proposed by Providence-based Deepwater Wind in waters about three miles southeast of Block Island.
As intervenors, they would have been able to cross-examine witnesses during hearings before the council, the lead state permitting agency for the project, and present evidence.
Silverstein noted that his ruling will not preclude them from taking part in the hearings.
“They may participate as other members of the public,” he said.
Terence Tierney, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said after the ruling was issued that it’s too early to say if they will lodge a further appeal.
Rosemarie Ives, who was in court with her husband, Jon, to hear the decision, criticized the way the council has handled the permitting process so far.
“The decision does not change the facts as we know them,” she said. “The CRMC is not representing the public.”
The couple argue that their property on Block Island, which has views of the proposed location of the wind farm, would lose value because of the project.
Lyons, the Narragansett resident, raised objections to the project because of a now-defunct plan to run a transmission cable from the wind farm to the Narragansett Town Beach and then string overhead power lines to a switch station. Deepwater has since changed the landing spot for the cable to Scarborough State Beach, also in Narragansett, and the company plans to bury any power lines.
Deepwater submitted its application materials a year ago to the council and the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency with oversight of the project, but the permitting process was delayed because of the appeal. The council agreed to postpone any hearings on the wind farm until after Silverstein ruled on the opponents’ case.
The ruling clears the way for hearings to be scheduled. Deepwater CEO Jeffrey Grybowski, who was also in court on Wednesday, said he hasn’t heard about any prospective dates. A spokeswoman for the council could not be reached for comment.
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