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RI Coastal Resources Management Council

...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
General
FAQs

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is the state agency tasked with managing and regulating activities that occur on and near the coast of our state. It was created in 1971 by the General Assembly, comprised of a professional staff of engineers and biologists, and a 10-member Council of Governor-appointed laypeople representing different Rhode Island communities. The Council serves as the adjudicatory arm of the agency and hears complex and difficult applications, as well as regulatory matters.

In order to carry out its mandate to “preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore the coastal resources of the state for this and succeeding generations…,” the agency is involved in many different functions in the state’s coastal zone. The CRMC is in its simplest form, a management and planning, and permitting agency. But it also investigates and designates rights-of-way to the shore, manages habitat restoration projects, serves as the state’s dredging coordinator, regulates the state’s aquaculture industry, oversees municipal harbor management plans and marina activities, develops long-term area-specific plans called Special Area Management Plans, regulates certain federal activities in coastal areas, and leads the state’s efforts to combat aquatic invasive species. It also participates in long-term planning to address climate change, storm-related issues that impact Rhode Island, sea level rise, and coastal adaptation. For more, explore our web site.

For more information on our other areas of jurisdiction and expertise, browse the Topics dropdown menu from the CRMC homepage for more.

Our professional staff processes applications, creates policy and planning tools and documents, evaluates special projects, and advises the Council on certain permitting activities. The CRMC executes the state’s coastal program or Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Plan (Red Book), as well as select federal activities that occur in Rhode Island and its waters, and regularly cooperates and collaborates with other municipalities, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations. For more on the CRMC’s various programs, go to our Regulations page.

Generally, it is defined as all tidal waters of the state extending to three (3) nautical miles offshore, and includes all coastal features (e.g., coastal beaches, barriers, dunes, coastal wetlands, rocky shorelines, etc.) and the 200-foot contiguous area to those features. Certain inland activities such as energy generating facilities greater than 40 megawatts, chemical or petroleum processing, transfer, or storage and other inland activities specified in state law may require CRMC review. The CRMC has jurisdiction for specific watershed activities (e.g., subdivisions of six or more units, roadways, large septic systems, etc.) within the Narrow River and Salt Pond Special Area Management Plans (SAMPs). The CRMC also has jurisdiction for activities affecting freshwater wetlands in the vicinity of the coast. For more information, see the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program (RICRMP) Red Book (650-RICR-20-00-1).

CRMC will log your complaint and refer you to the appropriate Enforcement staff for further information.

Yes, you can. Article 1 Section 17 of the Rhode Island Constitution allows for the collection of seaweed, among other privileges. Here are some caveats:

  • Collect only what you need (don’t collect ALL of it)
  • Don’t access the shore through/via private property
  • Stick to the wet sand area when collecting
  • Be respectful of others on the beach/property owners

As outlined in the section of the RI Constitution listed above, rights afforded to Rhode Islanders under it include “but are not limited to” fishing from the shore, gathering seaweed, leaving the shore to swim in the ocean, and passage along the shore. If you’re walking in the wet sand, swimming, collecting seaweed, or fishing from the wet sand or in the water, you should be fine. Setting up an umbrella, towel, chair, cooler or other items in the dry sand area might get you some unwanted attention from the property owner, however. See our brochure on Public Access for more information.

CRMC is now processing all Beach Vehicle Permits/Trail passes ONLINE. *Please Note: Once you’ve finished completing your online BVP application, the CRMC will contact you regarding your schedule to visit the office for your sticker. The Burlingame location is available for on-site application only.*

For more information, go here.

  • How much is a BVP? The fee for a BVP is $100 for RI registered vehicles, and $200 for out-of-state registrations.
  • Do you conduct inspections for a beach vehicle permit? No, but you are required to sign an off-road vehicle affidavit.

That depends, as CRMC, DEM and many local municipalities and federal agencies have 50 percent or other thresholds on which to apply regulations. For CRMC purposes, 50 percent typically refers to RI State Stormwater Manual requirements or Red Book buffer zone SLC increases, reference specific Red Book Sections for more detailed information.

Project/Application FAQs
Once you have your project in mind...

Your design consultant and/or CRMC staff can give an estimate, however official jurisdictional determinations require written applications. When in doubt, contact CRMC first.

Typically, assents are valid for three years from the date they are issued. Buffer zone management assents are valid for 10 years.

Check our online database, enter the property information, and the database will provide limited information. You can also request an electronic copy of any file (provide file #) via email or phone – cstaff1@crmc.ri.gov or (401)783-3370.

Check our online database, and look for file number(s) associated with the property you’re interested in, or call with property information to determine its status.

Here are some things to know/keep in mind when considering the scale of your project:

  • Structural Lot Coverage (SLC) expansions <50% which meet the lot requirements may be eligible for administrative review (non-Council hearing).  
  • Maintenance permits are typically quicker; they are for in-kind replacement of existing authorized structures (roof, windows, door, deck, driveway, etc).  Other typically quicker administrative permits include certain accessory structures and minor improvements (adding windows (excepting bay), decks, sheds, etc).
  • Interior work (including finishing a basement) does not require a CRMC permit, nor is it included in your application fee.
  • Adding a roofed or cantilevered structure (porch, entry, garage, bay window, etc) is a structural lot coverage (SLC) increase.  Adding an unroofed open deck is not a SLC increase, nor are 2nd story additions (roofed or unroofed).

For residential redevelopment (raze/rebuild, additions, etc.), here are some “red flags” that CRMC could focus on in the review of your project:

  • Existing (pre-1995) vs. Proposed Structural Lot Coverage (SLC) calculations are required. SLC increase >50% requires establishment of a vegetated buffer zone. An SLC increase <50% means no new buffer is required, but the applicant must avoid alterations to existing natural buffer vegetation located between the work and coastal feature.
  • SLC increase which does not meet the 50’ construction setback should be limited to <25% and may not be eligible for administrative review.
  • Stormwater treatment is required for new impervious driveway surface or new roof area:
    • new dwelling or demo/rebuild--treat entire roofed area
    • additions >600sf (not including 2nd story over existing footprint)
    • anything other than crushed stone for driveway
  • Coastal Hazard Analysis (CHA) is required for certain activities/permits. This tool evaluates a site from perspectives of sea level rise, storm flooding, and erosion risk.

The site will require a coastal assent application for any new work.  The current wetland edge needs to be shown and both the CRMC FWWVC Rules and CRMP Red Book/SAMP requirements may need to be met. No alteration to existing natural vegetation is allowed and any prior buffer zone requirements for the site will be vetted during review. All earth work should be setback a minimum 50 feet from the wetland edge.  If this is not possible, then minimization under Freshwater Wetlands in the Vicinity of the Coast and/or a variance request under the Red Book should be included in your application. CRMC engineers may seek additional information on site grading, wall design, etc.

An application for a new residential boating facility (dock) is required, including, PE stamped plans, public notice etc. The Army Corps (US ACE) will review through the CRMC public notice process. Section 1.3.1(D) dock standards apply.

Submitting Your
Application FAQs

You can email a PDF to crmcapp@crmc.ri.gov, or mail it to us (address is below). You can also mail or drop off your application, complete and with four (4) hard copies and an electronic version of the plans.

RI Coastal Resources Management Council
Stedman Government Center, Suite 3
4808 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, RI 02879

Please make your check out to the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council or RI CRMC. Sorry, we cannot accept cash or credit card/debit card payments at this time. Check here for the current schedule of fees (and scroll down). Many projects are captured under the “All Others” section, and use an Estimated Project Cost (EPC) for fee calculation.

Where there are questions or concerns regarding a submitted application, CRMC will contact the applicants for additional details or provide a written deficiency letter which identifies in writing additional materials that are needed. Additionally, our webpage provides a database of all applications.

The CRMC always strives to provide as much information about a project or permit or process as is practical.  However, providing detailed information without an application in-hand - including site plans – is precarious; staff often cannot make definitive decisions or identify all applicable regulatory requirements about potential projects via these methods. Please submit your application, and then follow the steps above for more information.

Those requesting CRMC’s review of complex issues, or projects where there are more than a few general questions should submit a request for a preliminary meeting or a request for a preliminary determination which will result in a written project evaluation. 

* During the COVID pandemic, the CRMC understands applicants’ and consultants’ desires to be safe and obtain information in a contactless manner, but keep the above in mind as you proceed. The CRMC staff will still not make official determinations without seeing/reviewing applications. *

Due to the pandemic, the building is closed to the public except with an appointment (please call 401-783-3370, or email if the matter isn’t urgent), but please read through the FAQs before calling front office staff with any additional questions you might have.

Anyone can file the application, but the owner must sign it. If your application is a contested or largely variant project, sometimes an attorney may submit it on your behalf.  Private consultants (architect, engineer, surveyor, etc.) and contractors also handle many projects as well as homeowners on smaller or repair projects.  The CRMC advises you to choose one contact person for staff to work with.

Generally, for most residential work you will need:

  • Application form (owner signature)
  • Fee
  • Proof of ownership (tax assessor letter)
  • Site plans (PE, PLS, architect, contractor, etc), to-scale with coastal feature shown relative to the existing and proposed work (see specific project checklists for more information)
    local building official signoff
  • DEM OWTS approval or sewer approval
  • stormwater Best Management Practices and calculations (depending on project)
  • CHA worksheet (for certain projects)
  • written variance request for all standards not met

If these are not all included (as applicable), CRMC administrative staff will alert the prospective applicant or representative.  Permit staff may request additional information as they review the project.

Stedman Government Center
Suite 116, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879-1900
Voice 401-783-3370 • Fax 401-783-2069 • E-Mail cstaff1@crmc.ri.gov

RI SealRI.gov
An Official Rhode Island State Website