After Seven-Year Litigation, CLF Applauds CRMC Decision to Deny Champlin’s Marina Expansion

Jerry Elmer

It was thrilling to attend the meeting of the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) last night, where the Council voted unanimously to reject the application of Champlin’s Marina to expand by several hundred feet into the Great Salt Pond of Block Island. The vote probably brings to a final conclusion a lawsuit that CLF has been fighting for the last seven years in the CRMC, in the Superior Court, and in the R.I. Supreme Court.

Champlin’s originally filed its application to expand in 2003. In February 2006, the CRMC voted (the first time) to deny the application. Champlin’s took an appeal (as they were legally allowed to do) to the Superior Court.  They won the appeal in Superior Court and were granted the permit. CLF and the Committee for the Great Salt Pond appealed to the Supreme Court, where we won – and the case was remanded (sent back) by the Supreme Court to the CRMC for a new vote.

It was that vote that was taken last night.

CRMC member Bruce Dawson made the motion to reject the Champlin’s application outright.  He cited the unique ecological value of the Great Salt Pond, and concluded by saying he could not support this expansion.

A vote was taken on the Dawson motion to deny the permit.  It was approved 7 to zero.

What about an appeal?  While Champlin’s could appeal, any such appeal would almost certainly fail. Not only is this a very old case, but legally, any new appeal would be severely limited to only what has happened since the Supreme Court remand. Such a narrow time period provides almost no basis for an appeal.

The meeting was well-attended. Despite the impending storm, the auditorium at the Narragansett Town Hall was almost full. Finally, I must say that there was an outpouring of warm feeling toward CLF and the Committee for the Great Salt Pond. After the meeting, a steady stream of well-wishers from the Island came up to thank the lawyers on our side. After a very long (and very difficult) litigation, this was enormously gratifying.

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