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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

What is the CRMC? 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.

What is the CRMC’s mission? 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 – http://www.crmc.ri.gov/

How does the CRMC accomplish this? 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 - http://www.crmc.ri.gov/regulations.html

What is the CRMC’s jurisdiction? 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) – http://www.crmc.ri.gov/regulations.html

Can I collect seaweed from the shore? Yes, you can. Article 1 Section 17 of the Rhode Island Constitution (http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/riconstitution/Pages/C01.aspx) 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

What am I allowed to do in the area from mean high tide line to the edge of the water on a beach that is considered private? 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’re doing 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. http://www.crmc.ri.gov/publicaccess/PublicAccess_Brochure.pdf

Project/Application FAQs

Once you have your project in mind...

How do I know if I need a CRMC permit/assent? Your design consultant and/or CRMC staff can give an estimate, however official jurisdictional determinations require written applications. When in doubt, contact CRMC first.

What kind of permit do I need?

How long is my permit/assent valid for? Typically, assents are valid for three years from the date they are issued. Buffer zone management assents are valid for 10 years.

How do I pay any fees due to the CRMC? 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 – (http://www.crmc.ri.gov/applicationforms.html and scroll down). Many projects are captured under the “All Others” section, and use an Estimated Project Cost (EPC) for fee calculation.

How do I learn more about the history of a property? Check our online database (http://www.crmcpermitdatabase.org/pads), 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.

How do I know if someone has a permit to do work on a property? Check our database, and look for file number(s) associated with the property you’re interested in, or call with property information to determine its status.

I have a question/concern about a possible enforcement matter; who can I contact? CRMC will log your complaint and refer you to the appropriate Enforcement staff for further information.

How do I obtain a 4x4 beach vehicle permit? CRMC is now processing all Beach Vehicle Permits/Trail passes ONLINE - https://ri-crmc.viewpointcloud.com/. *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 – (http://www.crmc.ri.gov/offroadvehicles/BeachesTrails_RegsInfo.pdf)

  • 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 – (http://www.crmc.ri.gov/offroadvehicles/OffRoad_Affidavit.pdf)

How do I submit my application to the CRMC? You can email us 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

How do I check on the status of my application? 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.

Can you provide me with detailed information about whether a prospective permit meets CRMC program requirements via email or over the phone?

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 (see: http://www.crmc.ri.gov/applicationforms/PreAppMeeting.pdf) or a request for a preliminary determination (see: http://www.crmc.ri.gov/applicationforms/Prelimdet.pdf) 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. *

Stedman Government Center
Suite 116, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879-1900
Voice 401-783-3370 • Fax 401-783-3767 • E-Mail cstaff1@crmc.ri.gov

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