Save The Bay voices support for Attorney General’s motion to intervene in Block Island marina proposal case
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – February 10, 2020 – Deeply concerned by the Coastal Resources Management Council’s recent attempt to reverse court-upheld agency decisions via a closed-door mediation process, Save The Bay extends support for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s petition to intervene in the case of Champlin’s Realty Associates v. the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC).
“Save The Bay welcomes and supports the Attorney General’s motion to intervene in the Champlin’s case pending before the Supreme Court,” said Save The Bay Executive Director Jonathan Stone. “The Attorney General is uniquely situated to represent the public interest in this case by ensuring the environmental impacts to public trust resources were carefully evaluated and is also the only party that has the statutory duty to take all necessary action to protect and preserve our common law and constitutional public trust rights.”
The memorandum of understanding that CRMC filed with the Supreme Court was intended to serve as an agency decision, but it failed to allow input from the public and other parties and did not contain findings of fact and conclusions of law that are required by the Administrative Procedures Act.
“The MOU was filed without findings demonstrating that environmental impacts to public trust resources were carefully evaluated—findings relating to competing public trust uses, harbor safety, water quality, erosion and impacts to diversity of plant and animal life,” said Kendra Beaver, staff attorney at Save The Bay. “The attempted settlement circumvented the public process mandated by law, reversed earlier decisions, excluded parties and the public, and creates a dangerous precedent.”
The Committee for the Great Salt Pond, the Town of New Shoreham, the Block Island Conservancy, and the Conservation Law Foundation intervened in the case and represented the public trust resources before the Council and the Court. Once the request to intervene was granted by the Council, the Intervenors became full parties to the case in accordance with the CRMC’s Management Procedures.
“While Save The Bay did not directly participate in the case because our interests were represented by the intervenors, we are alarmed that mediation proceeded without the intervenors,” said Beaver. “This represents a major breach in process, leaving environmental and public trust resources without representation.”
Since its founding in 1970, Save The Bay has served as the people’s voice for Narragansett Bay and its surrounding waters and, as such, has repeatedly voiced its concerns about the structure of CRMC. We have advocated for reforms at the agency, including the need for the Executive Director and its staff to have an agency attorney dedicated exclusively to representing their interests and those of the residents of the state. The recent developments in this case further highlight the dire need for this change.