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CRMC issues 2019-2020 ROW report
May 13, 2021, WAKEFIELD – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has released its 2019-2020 annual report on rights-of-way in the state, “Designation of Public Rights-of-Way to The Tidal Areas of The State.”
From July 2019 through June 2020, 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.
The CRMC, through its rights-of-way regulatory process, has recommended a number of locations for future designation as CRMC rights-of-way, and are in different stages of the rights-of-way designation process.
Wilson Park, Allen Harbor, and Town Wharf in North Kingstown were proposed, and the Rights-of-Way Subcommittee held three meetings during the report period to discuss these areas. The Subcommittee is preparing its recommendation to the full Council.
Two potential ROWs in the Town of Portsmouth, Cory’s Lane and East Power Street, were submitted by the town to CRMC for potential designation; these were reviewed by staff and have been forwarded on to the ROW Subcommittee.
The CRMC is continuing its review of five potential ROWs in the Buttonwoods Fire District in Warwick: Buttonwoods Avenue, Andrew Comstock Road, Promenade Avenue, Claflin Road, and Lorna Avenue. Research has been submitted by resident Richard Langseth, and as of the time of this report, Mr. Langseth has informed the CRMC that Promenade, Claflin, and Lorna were accepted by the City of Warwick as public ways leading to the shore, making them candidates for CRMC ROW designation.
Extensive unauthorized landscaping work obstructing the public’s use of CRMC ROW T-3 in Tiverton at Nanaquaket Pond was addressed by the CRMC along with the RI Department of Transportation, the Town of Tiverton, and the RI Department of Environmental Management, and the site and its access have been fully restored.
During the report period (largely during 2020), CRMC received numerous complaints of, and discovered through its own enforcement, posts and ropes marking assumed private property boundaries on beaches all over the state, and at rights-of-ways, and CRMC enforcement responded to these and required removal of all illegal structures.
As a member of the RI Attorney General’s ROW Task Force, the CRMC has identified three obstructed CRMC ROWs in Warwick, of which the CRMC ROW J-35 at Reynolds Avenue has become the task force’s primary focus. The City of Warwick is planning to survey this ROW. Notices of Violation were issued to all involved private property owners involved in blocking access at all three rights-of-way.
The CRMC is working with Save The Bay, the City of Newport, Friends of the Waterfront, and Clean Ocean Access in response to the blocking of CRMC ROW Z-19 at Lee’s Wharf in Newport, also in its role as part of the ROW Task Force.
CRMC enforcement also responded to a violation in which a private property owner had relocated a CRMC ROW in the Town of Portsmouth, and the right-of-way has been restored to its original location and is once again accessible to all.
The goal of the CRMC is to designate at least one public right-of-way for each mile of shoreline. With 226 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.