The Block Island Times
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CRMC denies Champlin’s

By Special to The Block Island Times Derek Gomes | Aug 30, 2013
Source: File photo

The Coastal Resource Management Council approved a declaration stating the agency did not engage in “disparate treatment” or “selective enforcement” by denying an application from Champlin’s Marina for expansion and subsequently approving an application from Payne’s Dock. The CRMC voted 6-2, with members Raymond Coia and Jerry Sahagian dissenting.

The Monday, Aug. 26 meeting at Narragansett Town Hall was scheduled because the CRMC meeting on July 30 did not come to a vote after Sahagian left the dais, which left the council without a quorum. Unlike the last meeting, in which Sahagian and member Tony Affigne exchanged heated remarks, the focus on Monday’s meeting remained on Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management liaison Robert Ballou’s 12 findings of fact, culminating in his opinion that the CRMC voted on the merits of each application — not bias.

“Based on the applications…and significant differences regarding the size of the marinas, extensions, the effects of the configurations, amount of vessel traffic, the impact on safe navigation and impacts on the mooring field, the council finds there is a rational basis for approval of Payne’s and denial of Champlin’s,” Ballou concluded.

Champlin’s application requested an increase to its occupancy of the pond by approximately four acres, accommodating an additional 140 vessels — an application the CRMC denied on separate votes in 2006 and 2011.

Payne’s application proposes an expansion of approximately 0.38 acres, accommodating an additional 15 vessels, which the CRMC approved in June 2011.

After these rulings resulted in disparate outcomes, the CRMC was tasked with reviewing its records and deciding if it reached the two decisions on the merits of each application.

At the meeting, Ballou contrasted the facts about the size of each company’s expansion, showing that the CRMC’s rulings were predicated on the relative impacts to the Great Salt Pond — not unfair treatment.

Ballou stated that in addition to the size of Champlin’s proposal, it would also impact on the town’s rental mooring field, potentially eliminating up to 40 moorings.

“There has never been a legally created mooring, so I don’t think the expansion of Champlin’s can impact something that doesn’t really exist,” argued Sahagian.

“I don’t think you want to tell the people with the boats they don’t have a mooring field,” Vice Chair Paul Lemont responded.

Ballou added that it is a “de facto mooring field [based] on what is currently there in the water of the Great Salt Pond.”

After an hour-and-a-half of vetting and slightly amending the 12 findings of fact, the agency voted and adjourned.

The matter will now most likely head back to Superior Court.

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