New London – The owner of a road salt business displaced by the planned reconstruction of State Pier for the offshore wind industry continues his attempt to block or delay a state environmental permit needed to complete work at the pier.
DRVN Enterprises owner and President Steven Farrelly has filed what is known as a notice of exception, his recourse for a previously denied objection to the Connecticut Port Authority’s plans for the pier. He argues he should be allowed to stay at the pier, where he has operated his business since 2014. Told to leave but given time to sell the remainder of his salt pile as part of an agreement with the port authority, DRVN left the site at the end of February.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection already has issued a proposed draft decision on the port authority’s application that recommends issuance of a permit. If finalized, the decision would permit the port authority to perform work essential to a $235.5 million project that includes as dredging and filling in between the two piers to create one larger pier able to accommodate large wind turbines.
Joint venture partners Ørsted and Eversource, contributing $70 million toward the project, are expected to lease the pier for 10 years while it constructs its planned offshore wind farms. State Pier is to be used as a staging and assembly area for offshore wind turbines.
The Jan. 10 legal filing from Farrelly sets into motion a timeline for legal briefs to be filed from all sides by July 2. Oral arguments are scheduled for July 14.
Farrelly has argued that DRVN is entitled to accommodations at the pier as a water-dependent user and argues DEEP’s proposed final decision either fails to address current pier tenants or is giving preferential treatment to the two commercial fishermen working off one of the two piers. The Connecticut Port Authority is accommodating the fishermen at State Pier.
Farrelly argues DEEP’s prior “notice of insufficiency” on the construction plan was issued because the port authority had failed to include information about current water-dependent uses.
“The claim that DRVN is not entitled to receive what all other water dependent users received at the time of the Letter of Insufficiency because it was forced to vacate the State Pier is a plain misreading of the requirements … against the recognized preferential treatment of water dependent users, against the clearly stated policy in the (Request for Proposals) as it relates to current users and disingenuous,” Farrelly wrote.
Farrelly also argues the request for proposals for State Pier should be admitted into evidence and requires specific concession be made to retain existing users of the pier.
Connecticut Port Authority Executive Director John Henshaw said the briefs and oral arguments were anticipated and will not impact the construction schedule. The port authority initially had anticipated obtaining DEEP and Army Corps of Engineer permits by May. Work at the pier is slated to be completed before the end of 2022.
On Tuesday, the port authority’s board of directors approved a measure that would allow Henshaw to sign contracts with three more contractors, for a total of $23.9 million. The largest of the newest contracts is with marine construction company JT Cleary for work on a relieving platform – a heavy lift pad at the east berth on the State Pier. It is the second largest work package approved, after dredging. A complete list of bid awards is available at bit.ly/nlspupdates.
Henshaw said the board has to date approved about 70% of work packages with more to follow at upcoming meetings. So far, he said the total amount spent is $4.8 million below the guaranteed maximum price for awarded packages.