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RI Coastal Resources Management Council preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

In accordance with notice to members of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council’s Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP) subcommittee, a meeting of the subcommittee was held on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. at CRMC offices, Oliver Stedman Government Center, Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, R.I.

Members Present
Jennifer Cervenka, Chair
Don Gomez

Staff Present
Grover Fugate, CRMC Executive Director
Anthony DeSisto, Esq., CRMC Legal Counsel
James Boyd, CRMC

Others Present
Teresa Crean, URI CRC

Call to order. A. Livingston called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m.

Item 1. Approval of previous meeting minutes – The Chair recommended holding approval of the previous meeting minutes for the next meeting when more members would be present.

Item 2. Review and approval of Shoreline Change (Beach) SAMP Chapters 3, 4, and 5 for public notice – G. Fugate told the Subcommittee that the team has met with NGOs and the building community to get their feedback on the chapters. Conservation Law Foundation of RI had comments: they wanted to make the Beach SAMP more regulatory and have the CRMC require a longer design life, G. Fugate said. This is not what this process was designed for, however, he said. Because a CRMC permit gets registered in the title, it does carry some weight, G. Fugate said (CLF was looking at what Boston has been trying to do – they were having mixed success). A comment from Save The Bay inquired who had established the minimum design life of 30 years. G. Fugate said that it is set in the chapter as a recommendation but is not required. D. Gomez asked if the chapters had been vetted publicly yet, and G. Fugate said that there have been stakeholder meetings, and municipal meetings with Bristol and Warren.

T. Crean said that the team had reviewed all comments from the public, and the chapters were released on October 12, 2017. Only two sets of comments were submitted – from the Salt Pond Coalition (these were positive comments) and a four-page letter from CLF. CLF’s comments on chapters 3 and 4 were minimal, T. Crean said. J. Cervenka asked for clarification on the 1 percent annual storm terminology. G. Fugate explained that the CRMC uses 100-yr, 50-yr return event terms, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses percentages, so CLF asked us to use both kinds (100-yr, or 1% recurrence rate). T. Crean further explained that the chapters show the water levels for those, so we refer to them in terms of water level. T. Crean added that with the Beach SAMP the team decided to go with the “100-yr return period label,” along with the 1 percent recurrence rate. J. Boyd commented that whether talking about 1 percent or 100-year-storm event, the water level drives it. The upper 95 percent value of that prediction to predict the water level in certain storm events is used, he said. G. Fugate said we’re looking at surge but there’s also a wave envelope that sits on top of that. D. Gomez asked if municipalities can build in a regulatory framework for this. G. Fugate said no, since this is outside of the state building code, but towns could require applicants to go through this SAMP process. T. Crean said the plan is to develop inundation models for all coastal communities.

One comment received asked that the CRMC consider how incremental SLR estimates might interact with local standards, and how reconcile this with CRMC process, T. Crean said. The CRMC, legislation would provide an applicant ability to take design elevations the CRMC recommends and use those instead of the state building code, G. Fugate said. On the south coast in particular, FEMA has underestimated inundation/surge by 5-10 feet, he said. The SAMP process also allows the applicant to build sea level rise into the structure’s design life, he said.

Another submitted comment was that CRMC should consider strengthening language concerning applicants’ timeline for demonstrating adaptation plan and monitoring, T. Crean told the Subcommittee. G. Fugate commented that it would be site-specific. Another CLF comment suggests CRMC make language clearer that if applicant does not adequately complete analysis of changing conditions for site that the permit can be denied, T. Crean said. G. Fugate that is not an ideal action and the problem is that mitigation measures are untested here, and we don’t know if it will add any life to the structure.
T. Crean reported to the Subcommittee on the timeline for the chapter releases: the team worked on the executive summary and how to use this document, and will have a revised introduction this month; coastal hazards chapter 2 (the team will draft this at the very end so it’s as current as possible), chapter 6 – State agency and municipal considerations (draft in January); chapter 7 – adaptation strategies and techniques (January 2018). G. Fugate said the goal is to have the entire drafted document in the spring. There’s also a web tool that people will be able to use where they can simply put in their address, he told the Subcommittee.

J. Boyd said once all the chapters are done and go before the Council, the CRMC will have to make a regulatory change – the content of chapter 5 – in the Red Book to OLD Section 110 – that will point people to SAMP but have requirements in the Red Book.

D. Gomez asked if the CRMC and Rhode Island are doing something unique among other states. G. Fugate said the only other state doing something remotely similar is California. We’re already seeing these problems in some areas, and staff already uses STORMTOOLS, but this is to help the applicant, he said.

D. Gomez made a motion to recommend moving forward for public comment; J. Cervenka seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous in favor.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:50 a.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Laura Dwyer
CRMC Public Educator and Information Coordinator



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