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State Pier Complaint Dismissed by Superior Court

A local road salt distributor’s attempt to reverse a state permit for the redevelopment of the New London State Pier was dismissed by a Superior Court judge on Wednesday.

New Britain Superior Court Judge John Cordani ruled that DRVN did not have standing to bring its appeal against the Connecticut Port Authority’s permit to fill about 7 acres of water between the two New London piers as part of its development into an offshore wind hub.

DRVN argued that DEEP issuing the permit to the port authority led to State Pier being closed, which erased the company’s ability to import its supply of salt and cost it millions of dollars in revenue.

Cordani wrote that DRVN did not establish a connection between the permit being issued and the company’s “alleged loss of business or use of the pier,” saying the two situations are “only tangentially related” since DRVN’s right to use the pier was ended by the port authority and the port operator Gateway before Feb. 28, months before DEEP issued the permit in August.

“In attacking the issuance of the permit to the Port Authority, DRVN is attempting to control the Port Authority’s future use of a pier, which the Port Authority owns, and in which DRVN has no particularized legal interest,” Cordani wrote.

Whether DEEP awarded the port authority a permit or not, the port authority has the ability to decide whether DRVN can operate on the pier, he wrote – and the permit DEEP approved has no sway over whether the port authority allowed DRVN to operate at the pier, Cordani wrote.

Kevin Blacker, a critic of the Port Authority, submitted a complaint to the Judicial Review Committee on Tuesday, before Cordani issued his ruling, alleging that the judge had potential conflicts of interest. 

Blacker said Cordani was a partner with Carmody, Torrance, Sandak & Hennesey before being appointed as a judge by Gov. Dan Malloy in 2017.  That law firm represents Eversource, which is partnered with Ørsted in Revolution Wind – a planned 704 MW wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island that the State Pier redevelopment is meant to facilitate. The partnership has contributed $55 million to fund that redevelopment.

Blacker said that Cordani’s son appears to be a partner at the law firm Robinson and Cole, which represented the Port Authority in the appeal.

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