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CRMC issues 2016-2017 ROW report
WAKEFIELD – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has released its 2016-2017 annual report on rights-of-way in the state, “Designation of Public Rights-of-Way to The Tidal Areas of The State.”
From July 2016 through June 2017, the CRMC continued its ongoing efforts to discover and designate public rights-of-way to the tidal areas of Rhode Island, under its legislative mandate (RIGL 46-23-17). Beginning in 1978, this mandate tasked the Council with identifying and designating all public rights-of-way to the shore. To meet this charge, the CRMC created a Rights-of-Way Subcommittee. The report details actions of the subcommittee, as well as legal proceedings stemming from these activities and subsequent actions of the Council.
During the report period, staff researched and investigated 10 locations in North Kingstown, Portsmouth, and Warren for potential CRMC right-of-way determinations, some of which might appear in future reports. Four shoreline access sites in Warren meet the CRMC criteria for designation as legally recognized CRMC ROWs, and were forwarded to the ROW Subcommittee for consideration.
The CRMC staff coordinated with Rhode Island Sea Grant on the development of a web-based application to update and replace the printed publication, “Public Access to the Rhode Island Coast,” describing hundreds of public shoreline access sites, including all 222 CRMC rights-of-way. This app, called Discovering the Rhode Island Shore, is available at https://www.shoreline-ri.com/.
Rhode Island Superior Court case of Kilmartin v. Barbuto – a suit brought by RI Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin against a number of Misquamicut Beach homeowners regarding public access – was brought to court during the reporting period. At issue was an approximately two-mile long stretch of land bordering the shore and extending landward. The AG claimed the original owners of this land recorded a subdivision (via 1909 Plat), offering an easement across the land to the general public, and sought a declaratory judgment from the Court to forbid the present homeowners from interfering with the public’s right to use the land as a public easement to the shore. The Court denied the Attorney General’s request, concluding that the 1909 Plat did not create an incipient dedication of easement to the shore. The Attorney General’s Office has declared it plans to appeal the ruling, though the appeal has yet to be heard.
The goal of the CRMC is to designate at least one public right-of-way for each mile of shoreline. With 222 sites designated along 420 miles of Rhode Island shoreline, the Council is more than halfway to its goal. For more information on the CRMC ROW designation process, go to the web site at http://www.crmc.ri.gov/publicaccess.html. For more detailed information on all right-of-way efforts, read the full report here.