R.I. Supreme Court denies an expansion for Champlin’s Marina

Fri, 10/14/2022 - 10:15am
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What may have been the longest-running saga in Block Island’s history, the challenge to Champlin’s Realty Associates’ attempt to expand its marina into the Great Salt Pond, has finally, after almost two decades, come to a final conclusion.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court’s October 14 decision affirms the decision of the Superior Court of June 17, 2020. The decision, written by Chief Justice Suttell states: “The effect of the Superior Court judgment is to deny Champlin’s application, originally filed in 2003, to expand its marina on the Great Salt Pond in the Town of New Shoreham.”

In December of 2020, Champlin’s entered into mediation with the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council that resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding that, if accepted by the court, would have granted Champlin’s the right to an expansion, although one that was smaller than originally applied for.

The Town of New Shoreham, as an intervenor in the case Champlin’s Realty Associates v. Coastal Resources Management Council et al., declined to participate in the mediation and took its chances in court. The other intervenors in the case were the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, the Block Island Land Trust, the Block Island Conservancy, and the Conservation Law Foundation. The R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha also challenged the validity of the MOU.

At the time, the mediation caused controversy across the state, with many calling it a “back-room deal.”

Although the Superior Court determined that Champlin’s and the CRMC did have a right to mediate, when the matter was remanded back to them, the court left the door open for the town and the intervenors to have one last say in Supreme Court.

Suttell’s final decision states: “...we deny the request by Champlin’s and the CRMC to incorporate and merge the MOU into a consent order of the Supreme Court.”

Suttell found that the MOU “fails to comport with the CRMC’s regulations and the [R.I. Administrative Procedures Act] in that it is devoid of any findings of fact with respect to the requirements that applicants must satisfy under CRMP Section 300.1.” He further states that: “We therefore hold that the remand justice erred in determining that the CRMC and Champlin’s had authority to mediate. Accordingly, we decline to incorporate and merge the MOU into a consent order of this Court.”

This is big news for the island and for justice overall,” said Sven Risom, Second Warden of the Town of New Shoreham and a long-time member and director of the Committee for the Great Salt Pond.

We won,” said lead attorney for the intervenors, Dan Prentiss, when delivering Risom the news.

This is very exciting,” Henry duPont, also a long-time member and director of the Committee for the Great Salt Pond told The Block Island Times.

For more on the Supreme Court’s 54-page decision, see next week’s edition of The Times.