Town requests that RIFF be stripped of license

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 5:30pm
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The Town of New Shoreham and Interstate Navigation filed a brief in Rhode Island Superior Court opposing operation of Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s proposed seasonal high-speed ferry service from Quonset to Block Island. The Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers granted RIFF with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to operate the service in Sept. of 2016.

In March, Superior Court Judge Maureen B. Keough denied the third attempt by Interstate Navigation to remand the case back to the Division. Over the past few year, Interstate and the town have waged a legal battle in opposition to RIFF’s service. The town opposes the services due to what officials have said is insufficient landing space at Old Harbor, along with public safety issues and infrastructure concerns.

In the joint filing to Superior Court the town and Interstate request that the Division reverses its order for granting RIFF with its CPCN license. It also requests that the Division not grant RIFF an additional one-year continuance to satisfy the Division’s dockage requirement or the license.

The Division’s granting of the license is conditional that RIFF secure dockage at Block Island’s Old Harbor for the service within one year of being granted the license. RIFF has been unable to secure dockage at Old Harbor through Paul Filippi’s Bluewater, LLC, and the Division has twice extended the deadline.

In the jointly filed brief, the town and Interstate note that the Division’s granting of the CPCN, “and related orders were unsupported by competent evidence; were arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion; were made upon unlawful procedure; violated statutory provisions; and prejudiced the Petitioners.”

The town and Interstate claim that the Division “failed to properly handle this matter from the beginning,” noting “legal and procedural irregularities. It is unclear why so many irregularities occurred in this docket. However, it is clear that each irregularity provided a benefit to RIFF and each irregularity caused prejudice to the Town and Interstate.”

The 59-page document filed in Superior Court by Interstate and the town on May 20 comes with a list of 10 requests of the court.

  1. Reverse the Division’s September 2016 CPCN Order;
  2. Issue an order modifying the Division’s September 2016 CPCN Order to provide that RIFF is not entitled to the issuance of a CPCN to operate a summer-only, passenger-only fast ferry water carrier between Quonset Point, North Kingstown and Old Harbor, Block Island;
  3. Reverse the Division’s July 2018 Order which held that RIFF was “fit, willing and able” despite proof that RIFF could not secure a docking location in Old Harbor;
  4. Issue an order that RIFF did not have a realistic expectation of constructing docking facilities in Old Harbor;
  5. Issue an order that RIFF is not entitled to the issuance of a CPCN to operate between Quonset Point, North Kingstown and Old Harbor, Block Island, because without a docking facility in Old Harbor, RIFF does not have the ability to operate a ferry to Old Harbor, Block Island;
  6. Issue an order modifying the Division’s July 2018 Order to provide that the Division must revisit the matter pursuant to Ordered Paragraph 4 of the Division’s December 2015 Order;
  7. Issue an order modifying the Division’s July 2018 Order to provide that the conditional CPCN issued to RIFF is revoked/denied;
  8. Reverse the Division’s September 2018 Order which stayed he deadline for RIFF to meet the conditions required by the Division’s September 2016 CPCN Order;
  9. Issue an order denying RIFF’s request for an additional one-year continuance to satisfy the CPCN Conditions set forth in the September 2016 CPCN Order; and
  10. Grant such additional and further relief as this Honorable Court shall deem meet and just.

In response, Charlie Donadio, Jr., owner of RIFF, told The Times that, “James Hall, Adler Pollock attorney for Rhode Island Fast Ferry, will address the town and Interstate’s joint brief in its June 19 filing. As for the specific arguments in the brief, they are simply revisiting the same unsuccessful arguments that they have offered from the beginning of the application six years ago on July 1, 2013.” Donadio is referring to when the New Shoreham Town Council voted in opposition to his proposed ferry service.