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Town seeks amendments to CRMC erosion draft

February 22, 2013

Aerial view of Matunuck Beach Road and surrounding area. The CRMC will hold a public workshop March 7 to review the working draft of the experimental coastal erosion control rules, first proposed in October. (Narragansett Times File Photo )

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The Town of South Kingstown would like to make several amendments to the proposed experimental coastal erosion control rules for Matunuck and Misquamicut.
The Coastal Resources Management Council will hold a public workshop March 7 to review the working draft of the experimental coastal erosion control rules, first proposed in October.

At the Feb. 11 South Kingstown Town Council meeting, council members approved a resolution endorsing the comments concerning the pending regulations.
Town Manager Steve Alfred listed six specific components that need to be addressed in CRMC’s draft, according to Vincent Murray, South Kingstown’s director of planning.
The first pertains to the area for environmental beach erosion controls, which will be located at eight properties on Matunuck Beach. The town would like CRMC to include two properties the town owns in its experiment.
“We feel that the town beach, which has certainly experienced considerable erosion activities over the past 10 years, would be a great place for the community to be able to have demonstrations of the different erosion control devices and to be able to measure their practices,” Alfred said. “Without those two parcels incorporated into the regulations, that won’t be possible.”
The town is also requesting a technical appendix for the regulations be included to assist property owners in understanding what is or is not an allowable activity, per the regulations.
“This would provide the laymen with a better explanation as to what type of experimental activities are allowable activities or what are they contemplating,” Alfred said. “Right now, there is really no definition for the property owners as to what is an allowable or acceptable activity.”
The third item the town is requesting is the inclusion of a provision for hybrid systems, which is the use of both hard and soft measures to control coastal erosion.
In the current draft, such a provision does not exist.
“We believe that just the use of soft measures is not an effective way of looking at experimental activities within that beach front,” Alfred said.
The town also takes issues with the fact that the technical committee assigned to oversee experimental coastal erosion control measures is “heavily laden with academic personnel.”
According to Alfred, there are only two members on the committee who represent the towns of Westerly and South Kingstown.
The town would like greater representation on behalf of the municipalities.
“We believe it should be a more rounded committee for a greater exchange of information on different points of view,” Alfred said.
The town also believes that what Alfred called the “quid pro quo” of the proposed regulations that the property owner must remove any existing unauthorized structure before an application be considered, is “inappropriate.”
Alfred said the town believes enforcement actions should be directed through CRMC regulations, not through the experimental control activities these guidelines direct.
Despite the several components the town hopes will be altered, the overall feeling about the proposed coastal erosion control measures is positive.
“This is a good starting point,” Alfred said. “But we’re also hopeful that the points raised can be incorporated to the overall document before it is accepted by CRMC.”
Councilor Jim O’Neill agreed.
“This is very reasonable and we have offered ourselves as a guinea pig,” Alfred said of the town offering two parcels of land to be used by CRMC for experimentation. “I think our community is willing to give this an opportunity.”
CRMC will hold a public workshop Thursday, March 7 at 3 p.m. at the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the University of Rhode Island’s Bay Campus in Narragansett.
Affected property owners, town and state officials and interested parties are invited to attend the public workshop and provide input on the proposed draft rules, which can be viewed on the CRMC’s website at
CRMC will take any feedback provided during the public workshop into consideration and will make changes to the draft accordingly. The March 7 public workshop will precede any formal rule-making process, including public notice and a public hearing, for adoption by the town council at a later date.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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