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Zoning commission approves extended construction hours at Electric Boat work site

Groton — A city zoning panel voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow Electric Boat to extend the hours in which construction can proceed at the South Yard Assembly Building where the shipbuilder plans to put together Columbia-class, ballistic-missile submarines.

Neighbors have complained that the work has disrupted their lives and damaged homes.

In a 6-0 vote following a public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special-permit modification allowing EB to extend construction hours from the current 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, according to City Planner Leslie Creane.

EB had sought to extend the hours to 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday.

Creane said EB’s vice president for real estate and facilities, Joe Drake, had suggested the reduction in the hours EB originally requested as “a compromise.” During the hearing, members of the public spoke about the impact the construction has had on their neighborhood, citing the effects of noise and drilling that they said has caused foundations to crack.

“Their testimony was very compelling,” Creane said, referring to the residents who spoke via Zoom during the virtual hearing. She said the commission was grateful for EB’s “willingness to hear and understand what people were saying and that they were willing to revisit some of their decisions.”

An EB spokeswoman, Liz Power, responded to questions prompted by the commission’s action.

“We remain in regular contact with the community on project progress and respond to any concerns with property owners directly,” she wrote in an email. “We have addressed concerns about construction-related damage. Independent inspectors examined the concerns and determined that the damage observed was most likely not caused by our construction.”

Power said the project, the centerpiece of an $850 million expansion, should be completed in 2023.

The commission also voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a special permit EB sought for the design of another shipyard structure — Building 605 — that will house manufacturing spaces, crew support areas and a cafeteria and will serve as an entry to the south yard for EB and Navy personnel.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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