A version of this bill has been introduced several times, but no committee has ever been named, and the committee has never met. It dies a silent death at the end of each legislative session during which it was introduced.
This version has been amended to remove the original restriction which would have only applied the law to Rhode Island’s “sandy shores.” With sea level rise, what was a sandy shore may change its character…and the constitution does not change, our rights are intact no matter what the character of the coast.
2006 — H 7317
S T A T E O F R H O D E I S L A N D
IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2006
A N A C T
RELATING TO WATERS AND NAVIGATION — COASTAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
Introduced By: Representatives Ginaitt, McHugh, Naughton, McNamara, and Long
Date Introduced: February 15, 2006
Referred To: House Environment and Natural Resources
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
1 SECTION 1. Section 46-23-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 46-23 entitled “Coastal
2 Resources Management Council” is hereby amended to read as follows:
3 46-23-1. Legislative findings. — (a) (1) Under article 1, section 17 of the Rhode Island
4 Constitution, the people shall continue to enjoy and freely exercise all the rights of fishery, and
5 the privileges of the shore, to which they have been heretofore entitled under the charter and
6 usages of this state, including but not limited to fishing from the shore, the gathering of seaweed,
7 leaving the shore to swim in the sea and passage along the shore; and they shall be secure in their
8 rights to use and enjoyment of the natural resources of the state with due regard for the
9 preservation of their values; and it is the duty of the general assembly to provide for the
10 conservation of the air, land, water, plant, animal, mineral and other natural resources of the state,
11 and to adopt all means necessary and proper by law to protect the natural environment of the
12 people of the state by providing adequate resource planning for the control and regulation of the
13 use of the natural resources of the state and for the preservation, regeneration, and restoration of
14 the natural environment of the state.
15 (2) The general assembly recognizes and declares the right of passage along the salt water-land boundary in
16 Rhode Island is not only guaranteed in the constitution but has enjoyed a long use going back to
17 our early days of statehood and is a matter of custom in Rhode Island. The passage along the
18 salt water-land boundary has in the ancient past and today been along the dry land above the water’s edge. The general
1 assembly finds that the public trust doctrine entitles the public to swim in the ocean and to use the
2 foreshore in connection therewith without assuring the public of a feasible access route would
3 seriously impinge on, if not effectively eliminate, the rights of the public trust doctrine. To find
4 otherwise would result in a barrier of privately-held property between the publicly-owned trust
5 lands and the vast majority of the public who own this common resource. The general assembly
6 recognizes and declares that lateral access along the salt water-land boundary of Rhode
Island is critical to the
7 state’s tourism economy. The general assembly also recognizes that while it is an ancient
8 document that much of our common law for coastal resources is built on, it is also a dynamic and
9 evolving doctrine that is expected to adjust to societal needs. Federal insurance, municipal sewers,
and new septic designs have fostered an explosion in building along the water’s edge which was unimaginable
a generation ago. Tradition and common
10 understanding in Rhode Island has always been that the public has a right to use the edge of the land to pursue our constitutionally guaranteed activities, even if the title to that land is held in
12 private ownership. The general assembly recognizes that until the courts more fully explore and
13 defineclarify our constitutional rights along the coast there is a need to protect the public right to pass along
14 the salt water-land boundary
in the state. In addition the scope of the private right to property is
15 always balanced against public rights in the use of that property, such as a neighbor’s right to
16 bring an action for nuisance. In essence, the private property owner maintains a title to the dry
17 sand beachproperty to the high tide line, but certain components of ownership, such as the ability
to share in reasonable use of
18 a limited corridor along the salt water-land boundary, are held by the general public.
19 The general assembly also recognizes that the public’s rights in these areas are defined
20 by the constitution and not completely unfettered in these areas. To balance these interests for
21 lateral access the general assembly realizes that a limited access right needs to be preserved and
22 protected along the salt water-land boundary of our coast. Thus the general assembly authorizes the
23 Coastal Resources Management Council to protect the public’s right to walk along a ten (10) foot
24 wide strip of land above the salt water-land boundary.The council shall use its enforcement powers to protect
25 this right. and to implement guidelines to insure that public safety and security are not compromised by this act.
This ten (10) foot strip shall be measured from the highest point wetted by the wave wash of the normal monthly
26 high tide cycles. It does not include storm washes and other extra normal wave events.
28 (2) (3) The general assembly recognizes and declares that the coastal resources of Rhode
29 Island, a rich variety of natural, commercial, industrial, recreational, and aesthetic assets, are of
30 immediate and potential value to the present and future development of this state; that unplanned
31 or poorly planned development of this basic natural environment has already damaged or
32 destroyed, or has the potential of damaging or destroying, the state’s coastal resources, and has
33 restricted the most efficient and beneficial utilization of these resources; that it shall be the policy
34 of this state to preserve, protect, develop, and, where possible, restore the coastal resources of the
1 state for this and succeeding generations through comprehensive and coordinated long range
2 planning and management designed to produce the maximum benefit for society from these
3 coastal resources; and that preservation and restoration of ecological systems shall be the primary
4 guiding principle upon which environmental alteration of coastal resources will be measured,
5 judged, and regulated.
6 (b) (1) That effective implementation of these policies is essential to the social and
7 economic well-being of the people of Rhode Island because the sea and its adjacent lands are
8 major sources of food and public recreation, because these resources are used by and for industry,
9 transportation, waste disposal, and other purposes, and because the demands made on these
10 resources are increasing in number, magnitude, and complexity; and that these policies are
11 necessary to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare. Pursuant to 16 U.S.C. section
12 1452 (“The Coastal Zone Management Act”), the General Assembly hereby directs the council
13 (referred to as “CRMC”) to exercise effectively its responsibilities in the coastal zone through the
14 development and implementation of management programs to achieve wise use of the land and
15 water resources of the coastal zone.
16 (2) Furthermore, that implementation of these policies is necessary in order to secure the
17 rights of the people of Rhode Island to the use and enjoyment of the natural resources of the state
18 with due regard for the preservation of their values, and in order to allow the general assembly to
19 fulfill its duty to provide for the conservation of the air, land, water, plant, animal, mineral, and
20 other natural resources of the state, and to adopt all means necessary and proper by law to protect
21 the natural environment of the people of the state by providing adequate resource planning for the
22 control and regulation of the use of the natural resources of the state and for the preservation,
23 regeneration, and restoration of the natural environment of the state.
24 (c) That these policies can best be achieved through the creation of a coastal resources
25 management council as the principal mechanism for management of the state’s coastal resources.
26 (d) The general assembly recognizes and declares that maintenance dredging is required
27 to remove natural silt accumulations; Rhode Island has not had a general maintenance dredging
28 policy and programs for ports, port facilities, channels, harbors, public and private marinas and
29 boating facilities, recreational facilities and habitat areas; other major coastal states have
30 maintenance dredging policies and in-water maintenance dredge disposal sites; as a result of the
31 lack of a general maintenance dredging policy and program and as a result there has been (1) a
32 decrease in the depth of the Providence Channel from forty-four (44) feet in 1971 to twenty-four
33 (24) feet ni 1996; (2) navigational restrictions on ocean going vessels through the state’s
34 waterways and channels; and (3) a decrease in the number of available slips and moorings at
1 marinas throughout the state; and the lack of a maintenance dredging policy and programs have
2 significant adverse environmental and economic effects on the state and therefore it is in the best
3 interest of the state, the cities and towns of the state, and the citizens thereof for the state to have a
4 general maintenance dredging policy and programs to resolve issues related to dredge
5 maintenance and disposal and avoid future significant direct and indirect adverse impact on the
6 environment and economy of the state.
7 (e) The coastal resources management council is hereby designated as the lead state
8 agency for purposes of dredging in tidal waters and as such shall have the following duties and
10 (1) To coordinate the interest of the state with regard to dredging;
11 (2) To formulate and adopt a state policy with regard to dredging which integrates those
13 (3) To cooperate with, negotiate, and to enter into agreements on behalf of the state with
14 the federal government and with other public bodies and private parties with regard to dredging;
15 (4) To act as the initial and primary point of contact for all applications to the state for
16 dredging projects in tidal waters;
17 (5) To develop, prepare, adopt pursuant to section 46-23-11, implement, and maintain a
18 comprehensive plan for dredge material management; and
19 (6) To cooperate and coordinate with the departments of environmental management,
20 transportation, administration, and health, and the economic development corporation in the
21 conduct of these duties and responsibilities.
22 (f) (1) The legislature recognizes that under Article I, section 17, the submerged lands of
23 the state are impressed with a public trust and that the state is responsible for the protection of the
24 public’s interest in these lands. The state maintains title in fee to all soil within its boundaries that
25 lies below the high water mark, and it holds that land in trust for the use of the public. In
26 benefiting the public, the state preserves certain public rights which include but are not limited to
27 fishery, commerce, and navigation in these waters and the submerged lands that they cover.
28 (2) Since its establishment in 1971, the CRMC has had the authority to manage and plan
29 for the preservation of the coastal resources of the state including but not limited to submerged
30 lands. The legislature hereby declares that, in light of the unique size, scope, and overall potential
31 impact upon the environment of large scale filling projects involving twenty-five (25) acres or
32 more, any lease of tidal lands, or any license to use those lands, is subject to approval,
33 disapproval, or conditional approval by the direct enactment of the general assembly by
34 legislative action. CRMC shall review all requests for leases, licenses to use the land, and other
1 authority to use the land made by any applicant prior to presentation of the request to the general
2 assembly, and the CRMC shall make recommendations on the request to the general assembly.
3 With the exception of any and all projects to fill land of twenty-five (25) acres or more, the
4 general assembly hereby recognizes and declares that the CRMC is delegated the sole and
5 exclusive authority for the leasing of submerged and filled lands and giving licenses for the use of
6 that land. Accordingly, the CRMC will develop, coordinate, and adopt a system for the leasing of
7 submerged and filled lands, and licenses for the use of that land, and will ensure that all leases
8 and licenses are consistent with the public trust. Nothing contained in this subsection negates,
9 repeals, or alters the provisions, processes, and requirements for the leasing of submerged land
10 for the conduct of aquaculture as set out under chapter 10 of title 20. Therefore, nothing in this
11 chapter shall be construed to limit or impair the authority of the state, or any duly established
12 agency of the state, to regulate filling or dredging affecting tidal lands owned by the state or any
13 other entity, and nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit or impair the obligation of the
14 applicant to obtain all applicable regulatory approvals. Specifically, and without limitin g the
15 foregoing, nothing in this subsection negates, repeals, or alters the provisions, processes, and
16 requirements for water quality certification contained in chapter 12 of this title.
17 (3) Definitions.
18 (i) “Filled land” means portions of tidal lands which have been rendered by the acts of
19 man to be no longer subject to tidal action or beneath tidal waters.
20 (ii) “Tidal Lands” means those lands that are below the mean high water.
21 (iii) “Mean high water” means a line of contour representing the 18.6 year average as
22 determined by the metonic cycle and/or its equivalent as evidenced by the records, tidal datum,
23 and methodology of the United States coastal geodetic survey within the national oceanic and
24 atmospheric administration.
25 SECTION 2. Section 46-23-6 of the General Laws in Chapter 46-23 entitled “Coastal
26 Resources Management Council” is hereby amended to read as follows:
27 46-23-6. Powers and duties — Rights-of-way. [Effective January 15, 2006.] — In order
28 to properly manage coastal resources the council has the following powers and duties:
29 (1) Planning and management.
30 (i) The primary responsibility of the council shall be the continuing planning for and
31 management of the resources of the state’s coastal region. The council shall be able to make any
32 studies of conditions, activities, or problems of the state’s coastal region needed to carry out its
34 (ii) The resources management process shall include the following basic phases:
1 (A) Identify all of the state’s coastal resources, water, submerged land, air space, fin fish,
2 shellfish, minerals, physiographic features, and so forth.
3 (B) Evaluate these resources in terms of their quantity, quality, capability for use, and
4 other key characteristics.
5 (C) Determine the current and potential uses of each resource.
6 (D) Determine the current and potential problems of each resource.
7 (E) Formulate plans and programs for the management of each resource, identifying
8 permitted uses, locations, protection measures, and so forth.
9 (F) Carry out these resources management programs through implementing authority and
10 coordination of state, federal, local, and private activities.
11 (G) Formulation of standards where these do not exist, and reevaluation of existing
13 (H) To develop comprehensive programs for dredging in tidal waters and related
14 beneficial use, disposal, monitoring dewatering and transportation of dredge materials.
15 (I) To accept and administer loans and grants from the federal government and from
16 other sources, public or private, for the carrying out of any of its functions, which loans or grants
17 shall not be expended for other than the purposes for which provided.
18 (J) To encourage, participate in, or conduct studies, investigations, research, and
19 demonstrations relating to dredging, disposal of dredge materials and transportation thereof in the
20 tidal waters of the state as the coastal resources management council may deem advisable and
21 necessary for the discharge of its duties under this chapter.
22 (K) To collect and disseminate information relating to dredging, disposal of dredge
23 materials and transportation thereof within the tidal waters of the state.
24 (L) To work with the appropriate federal and state agencies to develop as provided for in
25 this chapter and in chapter 6.1 of this title, a comprehensive plan for dredging in tidal waters and
26 related beneficial use, disposal, monitoring dewatering and transportation of dredge materials.
27 (M) To apply for, accept and expend grants and bequests of funds, for the purpose of
28 carrying out the lawful responsibilities of the coastal resources management council.
29 (iii) An initial series of resources management activities shall be initiated through this
30 basic process, then each phase shall continuously be recycled and used to modify the counc il’s
31 resources management programs and keep them current.
32 (iv) Planning and management programs shall be formulated in terms of the
33 characteristics and needs of each resource or group of related resources. However, all plans and
34 programs shall be developed around basic standards and criteria, including:
1 (A) The need and demand for various activities and their impact upon ecological
3 (B) The degree of compatibility of various activities.
4 (C) The capability of coastal resources to support various activities.
5 (D) Water quality standards set by the director of environmental management.
6 (E) Consideration of plans, studies, surveys, inventories, and so forth prepared by other
7 public and private sources.
8 (F) Consideration of contiguous land uses and transportation facilities.
9 (G) Whenever possible consistency with the state guide plan.
10 (v) The council shall prepare, adopt, administer, and cause to be implemented, including
11 specifically through its powers of coordination as set forth in subdivision (3) of this section, a
12 marine resources development plan and such special area management plans as the council may
13 determine to be appropriate or desirable as follows:
14 (A) Marine resources development plan.
15 (1) The purpose of the marine resources development plan shall be to provide an
16 integrated strategy for: (a) improving the health and functionality of Rhode Island’s marine
17 ecosystem; (b) providing for appropriate marine-related economic development; and (c)
18 promoting the use and enjoyment of Rhode Isla nd’s marine resources by the people of the state.
19 (2) The marine resources development plan shall include specific goals and objectives
20 necessary to accomplish its purposes, performance measures to determine progress toward
21 achieving such goals and objectives, and an implementation program.
22 (3) The marine resources development plan shall be prepared in cooperation with the
23 department of environmental management, the statewide planning program, and the economic
24 development corporation, with the involvement of such other state agencies as may be
25 appropriate, and with such technical support as may be necessary and appropriate from the
26 Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, the Coastal Institute at the University of Rhode Island, and
27 Rhode Island Sea Grant.
28 (4) The plan shall be responsive to the requirements and principles of the federal coastal
29 zone management act as amended, including, but not limited to, the expectations of the act for
30 incorporating the federal clean water act into coastal zone management programs.
31 (5) The marine resources development plan shall take into account local land use
32 management responsibilities as provided for under title 45 and harbor management
33 responsibilities, and the preparation of the plan shall include opportunities for involvement and/or
34 comment by cities and towns.
1 (6) The marine resources development plan shall be adopted by the council in
2 accordance with the provisions of this subsection by July 1, 2005, shall as appropriate incorporate
3 the recommendations of the Governor’s Narragansett Bay and Watershed Planning Commission,
4 and shall be made consistent with systems level plans as appropriate, in order to effectuate the
5 purposes of systems level planning. The council shall update the marine resources development
6 plan at least once every five (5) years.
7 (7) The council shall administer its programs, regulations, and implementation activities
8 in a manner consistent with the marine resources development plan.
9 (8) The marine resources development plan and any updates thereto shall be adopted as
10 appropriate as elements of the state guide plan pursuant to section 42-11-10.
11 (B) Special area management plans.
12 (1) The council shall adopt such special area management plans as deemed necessary
13 and desirable to provide for the integration and coordination of the protection of natural
14 resources, the promotion of reasonable coastal-dependent economic growth, and the improved
15 protection of life and property in the specific areas designated council as requiring such integrated
16 planning and coordination.
17 (2) The integrated planning and coordination herein specified shall include, but not be
18 limited to, federal agencies, state agencies, boards, commissions, and corporations, including
19 specifically the economic development corporation, and cities and towns, shall utilize to the
20 extent appropriate and feasible the capacities of entities of higher education, including Rhode
21 Island Sea Grant, and shall provide for the participation of advocacy groups, community-based
22 organizations, and private persons.
23 (3) The council shall administer its programs, regulations, and implementation activities
24 in a manner consistent with special area management plans.
25 (4) Special area management plans and any updates thereto shall be adopted as
26 appropriate as elements of the state guide plan pursuant to section 42-11-10.
27 (2) Implementation.
28 (i) The council is authorized to formulate policies and plans and to adopt regulations
29 necessary to implement its various management programs. With respect to such policies and
30 plans which relate to matters where the coastal resources management council and the department
31 of environmental management have concurrent jurisdiction and upon formulation of the plans and
32 regulations, the council shall, prior to adoption, submit the proposed plans or regulations to the
33 director of the environmental management for the director’s review. The director shall review and
34 submit comments to the council within thirty (30) days of submission to the director by the
1 council. The comments of the director shall include findings with regard to the consistency of the
2 policies, plans and/or regulations with the requirements of laws administered by the department.
3 The council shall consider the director’s comments prior to adoption of any such policies, plans or
4 regulations and shall respond in writing to findings of the director with regard to the consistency
5 of said policies, plans and/or regulations with the requirements of laws administered by the
7 (ii) (A) The council shall have exclusive jurisdiction below mean high water for all
8 development, operations, and dredging, consistent with the requirements of chapter 6.1 of this
9 title and except as necessary for the department of environmental management to exercise its
10 powers and duties and to fulfill its responsibilities pursuant to sections 42-17.1-2 and 42-17.1-24,
11 and any person, firm, or governmental agency proposing any development or operation within,
12 above, or beneath the tidal water below the mean high water mark, extending out to the extent of
13 the state’s jurisdiction in the territorial sea, shall be required to demonstrate that its proposal
14 would not:
15 (I) Conflict with any resources management plan or program;
16 (II) Make any area unsuitable for any uses or activities to which it is allocated by a
17 resources management plan or program adopted by the council; or (III) Significantly damage the
18 environment of the coastal region.
19 (B) The council shall be authorized to approve, modify, set conditions for, or reject any
20 such proposal.
21 (iii) The authority of the council over land areas (those areas above the mean high water
22 mark) shall be limited to two hundred feet (200′) from the coastal physiographic feature or to that
23 necessary to carry out effective resources management programs. This shall be limited to the
24 authority to approve, modify, set conditions for, or reject the design, location, construction,
25 alteration, and operation of specified activities or land uses when these are related to a water area
26 under the agency’s jurisdiction, regardless of their actual location. The council’s authority over
27 these land uses and activities shall be limited to situations in which there is a reasonable
28 probability of conflict with a plan or program for resources management or damage to the coastal
29 environment. These uses and activities are:
30 (A) Power generating over forty (40) megawatts and desalination plants.
31 (B) Chemical or petroleum processing, transfer, or storage.
32 (C) Minerals extraction.
33 (D) Shoreline protection facilities and physiographic al features, and all directly
34 associated contiguous areas which are necessary to preserve the integrity of the facility and/or
2 (E) Coastal wetlands and all directly associated contiguous areas which are necessary to
3 preserve the integrity of the wetlands including any freshwater wetlands located in the vicinity of
4 the coast. The actual determination of freshwater wetlands located in coastal vicinities and under
5 the jurisdiction of the coastal resources management council shall be designated on such maps
6 that are agreed to in writing and made available for public use by the coastal resources
7 management council and the director, department of environmental management, within three (3)
8 months of [August 6, 1996]The CRMC shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the wetlands areas
9 described in this section notwithstanding any provision of chapter 1, title 2 or any other provision
10 except that the division of agriculture maintains jurisdiction over all farming consistent with
11 section 2-1-22(i) and (j). Within six (6) months of [August 6, 1996]the council in cooperation
12 with the director shall develop rules and regulations for the management and protection of
13 freshwater wetlands, affected by an aquaculture project, outside of those freshwater wetlands
14 located in the vicinity of the coast and under the exclusive jurisdiction of the director of the
15 department of environmental management. For the purpose of this chapter, a “coastal wetland”
16 shall mean any salt marsh bordering on the tidal waters of this state, whether or not the tidal
17 waters reach the littoral areas through natural or artificial watercourses, and those uplands directly
18 associated and contiguous thereto which are necessary to preserve the integrity of that marsh.
19 Marshes shall include those areas upon which grow one or more of the following: smooth
20 cordgrass (spartina alterniflora), salt meadow grass (spartina patens), spike grass (distichlis
21 spicata), black rush (juncus gerardi), saltworts (salicornia spp.), sea lavender (limonium
22 carolinianum), saltmarsh bulrushes (scirpus spp.), hightide bush (iva frutescens), tall reed
23 (phragmites communis), tall cordgrass (spartina pectinata), broadleaf cattail (typha latifolia),
24 narrowleaf cattail (typha angustifolia), spike rush (eleocharis rostellata), chairmaker’s rush
25 (scirpus amercana), creeping bentgrass (agrostis palustris), sweet grass (hierochloe odorata), and
26 wild rye (etlymus virginicus).
27 (F) Sewage treatment and disposal and solid waste disposal facilities.
28 (G) Beneficial use, dewatering, and disposal of dredged material of marine origins,
29 where such activities take place within two hundred (200) feet of mean high water or a coastal
30 physiographic feature, or where there is a reasonable probability of conflict with a plan or
31 program for resources management or damage to the coastal environment.
32 (H) The general assembly authorizes the Coastal Resources Management Council to
33 protect the public’s right to walk along a ten (10) foot wide strip of land along the salt water-land
34 the council shall use its enforcement powers to protect this right and to implement guidelines to
insure that public safety and security are not compromised by this act.. This ten (10) foot strip shall be
1 measured from the highest point wetted by thewave wash of the normal monthly high tide cycles.
It does not include storm
2 washes and other extra normal wave events.
4 (3) Coordination. – The council has the following coordinating powers and duties:
5 (i) Functioning as a binding arbitrator in any matter of dispute involving both the
6 resources of the state’s coastal region and the interests of two (2) or more municipalities or state
8 (ii) Consulting and coordinating actions with local, state, regional, and federal agencies
9 and private interests.
10 (iii) Conducting or sponsoring coastal research.
11 (iv) Advising the governor, the general assembly, and the public on coastal matters.
12 (v) Serving as the lead state agency and initial and primary point of contact for dredging
13 activities in tidal waters and in that capacity, integrating and coordinating the plans and policies
14 of other state agencies as they pertain to dredging in order to develop comprehensive programs
15 for dredging as required by subparagraph (1)(ii)(H) of this section and chapter 6.1 of this title.
16 The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation prior to purchasing cover material for the state
17 landfill shall first contact CRMC to see if there is a source of suitable dredged material available
18 which shall be used in place of the purchase cover material. Other state agencies engaged in the
19 process of dump closures shall also contact the CRMC to see if there is a source of suitable
20 dredged material available, which shall be used in place of the purchase cover material. In
21 addition, cities and towns may contact the CRMC prior to closing city or town controlled dump
22 sites to see if there is a source of suitable dredge material available, which may be used in place
23 of the purchase cover material.
24 (vi) Acting as the state’s representative to all bodies public and private on all coastal and
25 aquaculture related matters.
26 (4) Operations. – The council is authorized to exercise the following operating functions,
27 which are essential to management of coastal resources:
28 (i) Issue, modify, or deny permits for any work in, above, or beneath the areas under its
29 jurisdiction, including conduct of any form of aquaculture.
30 (ii) Issue, modify, or deny permits for dredging, filling, or any other physical alteration
31 of coastal wetlands and all directly related contiguous areas which are necessary to preserve the
32 integrity of the wetlands, including, but not limited to the transportation and disposal of dredge
33 materials in the tidal waters.
34 (iii) Grant licenses, permits, and easements for the use of coastal resources which are
1 held in trust by the state for all its citizens, and impose fees for private use of these resources.
2 (iv) Determining the need for and establishing pierhead, bulkhead, and harbor lines.
3 (v) Enforcing and implementing riparian rights in the tidal waters after judicial decisions.
4 (vi) The council may require an owner or operator of a commercial wharf or pier of a
5 marine commercial facility, as defined in 300.3 of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources
6 Management Program, but not including those facilities defined in 300.4 of the Rhode Island
7 Coastal Resources Management Program, and which is capable of offloading cargo, and is or will
8 be subject to a new use or a significant intensification of an existing use, to demonstrate that the
9 commercial wharf or pier is fit for that purpose. For the purposes of this subsection, a commercial
10 wharf or pier shall mean a pier, bulkhead, wharf, docking facility, or underwater utilities. The
11 council may order said owner or operator to provide an engineering certification to the council’s
12 satisfaction that the commercial wharf or pier is fit for the new use or intensification of an
13 existing use. If the council determines that the commercial wharf or pier is not fit, it may order
14 the owner or operator to undertake the necessary work to make the commercial wharf or pier safe,
15 within a reasonable time frame. If the council determines that the commercial wharf or pier,
16 because of is condition, is an immediate threat to public health and safety it may order the
17 commercial wharf or pier closed until the necessary work to make the commercial wharf or pier
18 safe has been performed and approved by the council. All work performed must conform to the
19 council’s management program. The council is also given the authority to develop regulations to
20 carry out this provision and to impose administrative penalties of five thousand dollars ($5,000)
21 per day up to a maximum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) consistent with section 46-23-7.1
22 where there has been a violation of the orders under this provision.
23 (5) Rights-of-way.
24 (i) The council is responsible for the designation of all public rights-of-way to the tidal
25 water areas of the state, and shall carry on a continuing discovery of appropriate public rights-of26
way to the tidal water areas of the state.
27 (ii) The council shall maintain a complete file of all official documents relating to the
28 legal status of all public rights-of-way to the tidal water areas of the state.
29 (iii) (A) The council has the power to designate for acquisition and development, and
30 posting, and all other functions of any other department for tidal rights-of-way and land for tidal
31 rights-of-way, parking facilities, and other council related purposes.
32 (B) Further, the council has the power to develop and prescribe a standard sign to be
33 used by the cities and towns to mark designated rights-of-way.
34 (iv) In conjunction with this subdivision, every state department controlling state-owned
1 land close to or adjacent to discovered rights-of-way is authorized to set out the land, or so much
2 of the land that may be deemed necessary for public parking.
3 (v) No use of land for public parking shall conflict with existing or intended use of the
4 land, and no improvement shall be undertaken by any state agency until detailed plans have been
5 submitted to and approved by the governing body of the local municipality.
6 (vi) In designating rights-of-way, the council shall consider the following matters in
7 making its designation:
8 (A) Land evidence records;
9 (B) The exercise of domain over the parcel such as maintenance, construction, or
11 (C) The payment of taxes;
12 (D) The creation of a dedication;
13 (E) Public use;
14 (F) Any other public record or historical evidence such as maps and street indexes;
15 (G) Other evidence as set out in section 42-35-10.
16 (vii) A determination by the council that a parcel is a right-of-way shall be decided by
17 substantial evidence.
18 (viii) The council shall be notified whenever by the judgment of the governing body of a
19 coastal municipality, a public right-of-way to tidal water areas located in such municipality has
20 ceased to be useful to the public, and such governing body proposes an order of abandonment of
21 such public right-of-way. Said notice shall be given not less than sixty (60) days prior to the date
22 of such abandonment.
23 (6) Pre-existing residential boating facilities.
24 (i) The council is hereby authorized and empowered to issue assent for pre-existing
25 residential boating facilities constructed prior to January 1, 1985. These assents may be issued for
26 pre-existing residential boating facilities, even though such facilities do not meet current
27 standards and policies of the council, provided, however, that the council finds that such facilities
28 do not pose any significant risk to the coastal resources of the state of Rhode Island and do not
29 endanger human safety.
30 (ii) In addition to the above criteria, the applicant shall provide clear and convincing
31 evidence that:
32 (A) The facility existed in substantially the same configuration as it now exists prior to
33 January 1, 1985;
34 (B) The facility is presently intact and functional; and
1 (C) The facility presents no significant threat to the coastal resources of the state of
2 Rhode Island or human safety.
3 (iii) The applicant, to be eligible for this provision, shall apply no later than January 31,
5 (iv) The council is directed to develop rules and regulations necessary to implement this
7 (v) It is the specific intent of this subsection to require that all pre-existing residential
8 boating facilities constructed on January 1, 1985 or thereafter conform to this chapter and the
9 plans, rules and regulations of the council.
10 (7) Lease of filled lands which were formerly tidal lands to riparian or littoral owners.
11 (i) Any littoral or riparian owner in this state who desires to obtain a lease from the state
12 of Rhode Island of any filled lands adjacent to his or her upland shall apply to the council, which
13 may make the lease. Any littoral or riparian owner who wishes to obtain a lease of filled lands
14 must obtain pre-approval, in the form of an assent, from the council. Any lease granted by the
15 council shall continue the public’s interest in the filled lands including but not limited to the rights
16 of navigation, fishery, and commerce. The public trust in the lands shall continue and run
17 concurrently with the leasing of the lands by the state to private individuals, corporations, or
18 municipalities. Upon the granting of a lease by the council, those rights consistent with the public
19 trust and secured by the lease shall vest in the lessee. The council may approve a lease of filled
20 lands for an initia l term of up to fifty (50) years, with, or without, a single option to renew for an
21 additional term of up to fifty (50) years.
22 (ii) The lessor of the lease, at any time, for cause, may by express act cancel and annul
23 any lease previously made to the riparian owner when it determines that the use of the lands is
24 violating the terms of the lease or is inconsistent with the public trust, and upon cancellation the
25 lands, and rights in the land so leased, shall revert to the state.
26 (8) “Marinas” as defined in the coastal resources management program in effect as of
27 June 1, 1997, are deemed to be one of the uses consistent with the public trust. Subdivision (7) is
28 not applicable to: (i) any riparian owner on tidal waters in this state (and any successor in interest
29 to the owner) which has an assent issued by the council to use any land under water in front of his
30 or her lands as a marina, which assent was in effect on June 1, 1997; (ii) any alteration,
31 expansion, or other activity at a marina (and any successor in interest) which has an assent issued
32 by the council, which assent was in effect on June 1, 1997; and (iii) any renewal of assent to a
33 marina (or successor in interest), which assent was issued by the council and in effect on June 1,
1 (9) “Recreational boating facilities” including marinas, launching ramps, and recreational
2 mooring areas, as defined by and properly permitted by the council, are deemed to be one of the
3 uses consistent with the public trust. Subdivision (7) is not applicable to: (i) any riparian owner
4 on tidal waters in this state (and any successor in interest to the owner) which has an assent issued
5 by the council to use any land under water in front of his or her lands as a recreational boating
6 facility; any alteration, expansion or other activity at a recreational boating facility (and any
7 successor in interest) which has an assent issued by the council, which assent was in effect as of
8 June 1, 1997; and (ii) any renewal of assent to a recreational boating facility (or successor in
9 interest), which assent was issued by the council and in effect on June 1, 1997.
10 SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.
BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
A N A C T
RELATING TO WATERS AND NAVIGATION — COASTAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
1 This act would authorize the Coastal Resources Management Council to protect the
2 public’s right to walk along a ten (10) foot wide strip of land at the salt water’s edge, and to use its
3 enforcement powers to protect this right.
4 This act would take effect upon passage.