...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
The Coastal Resources Management Council is a management agency with regulatory functions. Its primary responsibility is for the preservation, protection, development and where possible the restoration of the coastal areas of the state via the implementation of its integrated and comprehensive coastal management plans and the issuance of permits for work with the coastal zone of the state.
The CRMC is administered by a council who are appointed representatives of the public and state and local government, and a staff of professional engineers, biologists, environmental scientists, and marine resources specialists. It is a state agency created by the General Assembly that balances economic considerations with environmental protection. The decision-making process of the CRMC is conducted in the public eye through regular public hearings. In this manner, the public is given regular opportunities to formally input their comments on how the coastal resources of the state should be managed in Rhode Island.
In 1971, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation that created the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). The legislative findings recognized the paramount importance that the coastal resources provide to the social and economic welfare of the state, and charged the CRMC with the explicit policy.
"...to preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore the coastal resources of the state for this and succeeding generations through comprehensive and coordinated long-range planning and management designed to produce the maximum benefit for society from such coastal resources; and that the preservation and restoration of ecological systems shall be the primary guiding principal upon which environmental alteration of coastal resources shall be measured, judged and regulated."
In order to properly manage coastal resources, the General Assembly has given the CRMC explicit powers and duties. Specifically, the CRMC is charged with the primary responsibility for the continued planning and management of the resources of the state's coastal region. It is authorized to formulate policies and plans, to adopt regulations necessary to implement its various management programs; coordinate its functions with local, state, and federal governments on coastal resources issues (including advising the Governor, the General Assembly, and the public on coastal matters, and acting as binding arbitrator in any dispute involving both the resources of the state's coastal region and the interests of two (2) or more municipalities or state agencies. It is also responsible for the designation of all public rights-of-way to the tidal water areas of the state, and carrying on a continued discovery of appropriate public rights-of-way.
The regulatory authority of the CRMC is generally defined by the area extending from the territorial sea limit, 3 miles offshore, to two hundred feet inland from any coastal feature. In addition, natural features such as coastal beaches, dunes, barriers, coastal wetlands, cliffs, bluffs, and banks, rocky shores, and manmade shorelines all have an extended contiguous area of two hundred feet from their inland borders which is under the authority of the Council. Cultural features of historical or archaeological significance are also within the jurisdiction of the Council as required by the Federal Government.
In addition to developing coastal management plans and policies and implementing the state coastal regulatory program, the CRMC also has other important functions. It has a coordinating and oversight role for other state agencies and local governments which do not inherently consider coastal zone management issues in their decision-making processes. It has a leadership role in identifying new issues and seeking their resolution. It sponsors coastal zone research that has lead to new initiatives in public trust issues, coastal flooding, hazard mitigation, and special area management planning. And it provides the state with a continuing process of public rights-of-way discovery: an issue that is integral to all Rhode Islanders.
The Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is an independent state regulatory agency composed of ten members in accordance with R.I. General Laws § 46-23-2. Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor for terms of three years. The CRMC's enabling legislation requires that representation include members from coastal communities; state and local government officials, the general public, and the director of the Department of Environmental Management, who serves ex officio. When contested cases are heard, the Council must include a representative from the community involved when no CRMC member is from that town.
Each year for the past decade, the CRMC processes an average of over 1,100 applications. These proposed activities comprise of residential renovations and new homes, boat docks, subdivisions of land, and commercial and industrial work, and everything in-between.
The CRMC is organized into two (2) basic elements: the Council; and, its staff. Currently (as of March 2022) the Council membership is:
Except for the months of July and August when it meets monthly, the CRMC meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month and as necessary to hear application requests, investigate the existence of right-of-ways, hold workshops, and develop policy. It does this as one body, or as a subcommittee. All meetings of the CRMC are open to the public.
Standing committees of the Coastal Resources Management Council for March, 2022 are (The Chairman and Vice-Chairman serve as Ex-Officio on all committees):
PLANNING AND PROCEDURES SUBCOMMITTEE
OCEAN SAMP SUBCOMMITTEE
SHORELINE CHANGE (Beach) SAMP
URBAN PORTS AND HARBORS SUBCOMMITTEE
Additional subcommittees can be created at the direction of the Chair, who can also call for meetings as needed. All of these subcommittees function with the assistance of the Executive Director and staff.
Administratively, staff is divided into sections that perform policy and planning, administrative, permitting, and enforcement duties, all providing the Council with the necessary expertise to assist in decision-making. The staff conducts pre-application conferences, reviews all pertinent permit applications and prepares recommendations for decisions to be made by the Council. The staff also prepares draft plans and regulations for the Council's consideration. The staff of the CRMC is divided into the following components:
The Executive Director is responsible for all aspects of the agencies functions. Personnel issues, budget preparation, and various other administrative duties are carried out by the Executive Director in addition to the daily decision-making and recommendations to Council members.
The permitting staff conducts pre-application conferences, reviews all pertinent permit applications and prepares recommendations for decisions to Council members. The permitting staff, for most applications, is divided into teams, each team consisting of an Environmental Scientist and an Engineer. Each of the teams covers a specific geographic area of the state. This includes all of the territorial waters of the state and land areas in and surrounding the municipalities. The limited geographic focus of each team results in an increased knowledge and awareness of each areas coastal environment.
Policy and Planning
The policy and planning staff assures that all pending planning tasks are continued and that new planning tasks are initiated. In conjunction with the administrative section, the policy and planning staff prepares annual federal grant requests, and program performance reports. The policy and planning staff also serves as the lead contact on coastal planning activities and performance of the federal grant program with OCRM/NOAA.
The enforcement staff acts upon any violations of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program (RICRMP). They work closely with the permitting teams in order to discover any violation of the regulations in all of the geographic coastal regions of the state. In addition, the permitting staff works closely with other state agencies to make enforcement more efficient.
Would you like to make a formal request to access the public records of the CRMC? Please contact Lisa Turner, APRA Coordinator and Keeper of the Records at 401-783-3370 or LTurner@crmc.ri.gov. The CRMC Policies on Access to Public Records can be viewed in Section 1.15 of the Management Procedures (650-10-00-1), adopted in accordance with RIGL §38-2-1 et. seq.
Links below lead to the Rhode Island General Assembly web site
The regulatory authority of the CRMC is generally defined by the area extending from the territorial sea limit (three miles offshore), to two hundred (200) feet inland from any coastal feature, to watersheds, and to certain activities that occur anywhere within the state.
Activities which occur in the State's tidal waters are under the jurisdiction of the CRMC. These waters have been categorized into six prioritized Water Types, and range from Conservation areas to Industrial Ports.
After water types, coastal features are the most identifiable element of the CRMC's jurisdiction. These coastal features are: coastal beaches; dunes; barrier islands; coastal wetlands; cliffs, bluffs, and banks; rocky shores; and manmade shorelines. Each coastal feature has an extended contiguous area of two hundred (200) feet from their inland border. Cultural features that have historical or archaeological significance are also within the jurisdiction of the CRMC as required by the Federal regulations. Freshwater wetlands in the vicinity of the coast also come under the authority of the CRMC.
Also, for activities which occur within watersheds of poorly flushed estuaries, the CRMC has developed Special Area Management Plans to address the specific environmental concerns of those priority management areas. In addition to those activities captured under other CRMC management programs, certain activities which occur throughout these SAMP watersheds are regulated.
Lastly, certain proposed state-wide activities also come under the authority of the CRMC. These include power-generating plants; petroleum storage facilities; chemical or petroleum processing; minerals extraction; sewage treatment and disposal plants; solid waste disposal facilities; and, desalination plants. The CRMC assumes the responsibility of informing parties proposing these activities if a CRMC application needs to be submitted.