CRMC rejects Fast Ferry dockage application as deficient

Issues will be addressed, says applicant
Thu, 10/17/2019 - 7:00pm

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council says that the application for installing fixed pier dockage at Block Island’s Old Harbor to serve Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s seasonal high-speed ferry service from Quonset Pt. is deficient and contains issues that need to be addressed.

Laura Dwyer, spokesperson for the CRMC, said, “The application was returned to the applicant as deficient.” The CRMC issued the notice of deficiency on Thursday, Oct. 10, noting in its four-page document that, “processing (of the application) cannot be initiated as submitted.”

The application by Paul Filippi, owner of Bluewater, LLC, and co-owner of T&C Holdings, was returned to Filippi as deficient for several reasons, including lack of riparian rights; a public access plan; a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit; and no agreement with the Town of New Shoreham regarding use of the red stone breakwater, which the town leases from the CRMC.

Filippi submitted the application under Ballard’s Wharf Realty, which he is noted as manager, and co-owns with his brother, Blake Filippi.

Paul Filippi has been trying to secure “suitable dockage” for RIFF’s proposed ferry service, as part of a condition of the ferry company’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity license, issued by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers on Sept. 22, 2016.

The CRMC cited five reasons for labeling Filippi’s application as deficient:

1. The request to “modify an Army Corps of Engineers permit for which the CRMC has no jurisdiction.” The applicant “did not request to modify the applicable CRMC permit, which states: The marina shall only allow privately owned recreational vessels to utilize the facility; any commercial vessel use is prohibited.”

2. Bluewater, LLC and T&C Holdings, LLC are listed in an agreement regarding riparian rights for building dockage, but Ballard’s Wharf Realty is noted as the applicant. “Furthermore, the plans do not show any presumed/potential or previously determined riparian rights” for the property noted on the application.

3. The Town of New Shoreham’s riparian rights associated with the lease of the “Red Stone Breakwater” remains an issue to be determined between the town and the applicant. “This may require a determination through Superior Court prior to CRMC permit consideration.”

4. A Coastal Hazard Analysis has not been provided.

5. The CRMC lists six “significant issues” that have not been addressed: (a) an Army Corps permit has not been obtained; (b) no public access plan has been provided; (c) no docking for a crew transfer vessel for servicing offshore wind installations is shown on the plans; (d) a docking configuration for vessels docking at the marina has not been provided, and needs to be clearly shown; (e) eelgrass located by survey must be shown on the plan; (f) the applicant has not addressed an alternative recommended by staff in the CRMC’s Preliminary Determination of the dockage application.

Filippi told The Times that he “received the notice of deficiency and will address the issues very soon.”

The “Red Stone Breakwater” the CRMC noted in the application, is property that the Town of New Shoreham leases from the CRMC. The town signed a 50-year lease agreement with the CRMC for rights to the breakwater on April 1, 2012.

The town and Interstate Navigation, which operates the Block Island Ferry, have been waging a joint legal battle in Superior Court opposing the service since before RIFF was granted its license.

New Shoreham officials have said the service would create safety, traffic and congestion issues at Old Harbor.

Paul Filippi, and RIFF owner Charlie Donadio, Jr., said during an event on Block Island in August that the Quonset to Block Island ferry service would be operational next spring.

The event involved RIFF showcasing its new, $8 million, 320-passenger high-speed vessel named the Julia Leigh that would be commissioned to service the Quonset Point to Block Island seasonal route.