Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program - Greenwich Bay SAMP (650-RICR-20-00-6)
Pursuant to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. §§ 1451 through 1466) and R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 46-23 the Coastal Resources Management Council is authorized to develop and implement special area management plans.
A. The purpose of these rules is to establish the Greenwich Bay Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) within the 21-square-mile suburban watershed comprising the communities of Warwick, East Greenwich, and, to a smaller degree, West Warwick for the integration and coordination of the protection of natural resources, the promotion of reasonable coastal-dependent economic growth, and the improved protection of life and property. See Figure 1 in § 6.2(C) of this Part.
B. The regulations herein constitute the RICR regulatory component of the Greenwich Bay Special Area Management Plan (SAMP). For additional context and full understanding of this Part, please reference the additional chapters of the federally-approved Greenwich Bay SAMP available on the CRMC web site (www.crmc.ri.gov) for further information, including all other federally-approved RICRMP plans. The additional chapters of the Greenwich Bay SAMP provide the CRMC’s findings and policies that form the basis and purpose of this Part. The other chapters of the Greenwich Bay SAMP should be employed in interpreting R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-23-1, et seq.
C. Figure 1: Map of Greenwich Bay watershed.
A. Definitions for this Part are as follows:
1. “Coastal buffer zone” means a land area adjacent to a shoreline (coastal) feature, tributary to Greenwich Bay, or freshwater wetland in the Greenwich Bay watershed that is, or will be, vegetated with native shoreline species and which acts as a natural transition zone between the coastal and riparian areas and adjacent upland development. A coastal buffer zone differs from a construction setback (see § 1.1.9 of this Subchapter) in that the setback establishes a minimum distance between a shoreline feature and construction activities, while a buffer zone establishes a natural area adjacent to a shoreline feature that must be retained in, or restored to, a natural vegetative condition. The coastal buffer zone is generally contained within the established construction setback.
2. “Critical areas” means Mary’s Creek and Baker’s Creek in the Greenwich Bay coastal zone. Mary’s Creek is a coastal wetland complex feeding one of the most productive quahog grounds in Greenwich Bay. Baker’s Creek is a coastal wetland complex that provides valuable habitat for migratory birds. Gorton Pond’s shoreline provides habitat for at least three regionally rare plant species.
3. “Land trust” means an organization incorporated pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 7-6-1, et seq., or organizations meeting the definition of “charitable trust” set out in R.I. Gen. Laws § 18-9-4, or organizations duly existing as private nonprofit organizations in other states or the District of Columbia among whose purposes is the preservation of open space, as the term is defined in the SAMP. Further, all organizations must have been granted preliminary status as tax-exempt corporations under the Internal Revenue Code, 26 USC § 501(c)(3) and its regulations, as they now exist or may hereafter be amended.
4. “Native vegetated area” means a previously landscaped area or lawn adjacent to a shoreline (coastal) feature, tributary to Greenwich Bay, or freshwater wetland in the Greenwich Bay watershed where native coastal or riparian species have been restored voluntarily.
The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program (RICRMP) should be referred to for specific regulatory requirements on any activities that occur within the Greenwich Bay watershed. All applicants shall follow applicable requirements as contained in the Red Book, Part 1 of this Subchapter, including and specific requirements listed under water types in § 1.2 of this Subchapter and additional Category B requirements in § 1.3.1(A) of this Subchapter, the requirements and prerequisites in § 1.3.3 of this Subchapter for Inland Activities and § 1.3.6 of this Subchapter for Public Access, and any regulations in this Part.
6.4.1 Coastal Buffer Zones (formerly § 910)
A. Policies (formerly § 910.2)
1. CRMC will update and develop standards for coastal buffer zone management specifically within suburban areas. Once completed, the CRMC will amend the Special Area Management Plan to adopt the new standards.
2. The CRMC recognizes that there are many properties along shorelines, tributaries, and freshwater and coastal wetlands in the Greenwich Bay watershed that do not have established vegetated buffers. Therefore, the CRMC encourages the planting on these lots of native plant communities to enhance wildlife habitat and improve water quality.
3. It is the CRMC’s policy to develop conservation easements for the Greenwich Bay watershed that permanently restrict development, such as docks, in coastal buffers.
4. The CRMC recognizes the proven benefits of using low impact development (LID) techniques such as rain gardens, biofiltration, pervious pavers, and other infiltration methods on individual lots to treat stormwater runoff and improve the quality of water entering Greenwich Bay and its tributaries.
1. New commercial or residential structures are prohibited on lots abutting critical areas unless they can meet the required standards below.
2. Alterations to existing commercial or residential structures that result in the expansion of the structural lot coverage such that the square footage of the foundation increases by 50 percent or more are prohibited on lots abutting critical areas (defined in § 6.3(A)(2) of this Part) unless they can meet the required standards below.
3. No land shall be subdivided to create a new buildable lot or lots unless said buildable lot(s) can meet the required coastal buffer zone that would be based on the area of the newly created lot(s). For purposes of this section, the term “buildable lot” shall be as defined in the Warwick Development Review Regulations presently codified in Article 10.7.
1. Applicants for new construction or alterations to existing commercial and residential structures that trigger coastal buffer requirements and that are adjacent to critical areas must meet one of the following:
a. Applicants must meet the full required coastal buffer zone. No variances to the buffer width is permissible under this option, however, buffer zone management, view corridors, and recreational structures as provided under § 1.1.11 of this Subchapter may be permitted; or
b. Applicants may seek a variance to the required coastal buffer zone up to fifty (50) percent provided the applicant:
(1) meets the variance criteria;
(2) designs and constructs the project exclusively with approved low impact development (LID) methods in accordance with Table 1 of this Part;
(3) provides a conservation easement to the CRMC for the buffer area and any adjacent coastal shoreline feature within the property boundary; and
(4) will meet the local coastal setback requirement (See Warwick Zoning Ordinance Section 503.1) or has received a variance from said requirement.
Table 1: Lots adjacent to critical areas and coastal wetlands
Trigger / Threshold
Requirement (Option 1)
Option 2 / Variance Requirement
≥ 50% increase in structural lot coverage (as defined in RICRMP section 300.3); or new construction
Buffer Zone (Table 2a, RICRMP Section 150)
1. Buffer zone and coastal shoreline feature conservation easement granted to CRMC
2. Manage first 1.0" runoff from all impervious cover using LID
3. 50% of required buffer zone. In no case shall a buffer be less than 15ft.
2. All coastal buffer zones shall be measured from the inland edge of the most inland shoreline (coastal) feature. In instances when the coastal feature accounts for 50 percent or more of the lot, CRMC may grant a variance to the required buffer width.
3. Coastal buffer zone requirements for new residential development. The minimum coastal buffer zone requirements for new residential development bordering Rhode Island’s shoreline are contained in § 1.1.11 of this Subchapter. The Coastal Buffer Zone requirements are based upon the size of the lot and the CRMC's designated Water Types (Type 1 - Type 6). Where the buffer zone requirements noted above cannot be met, the applicant may request a variance in accordance with this SAMP. A variance to 50 percent of the required buffer width may be granted administratively by CRMC’s executive director if the applicant has satisfied the burdens of proof for the granting of a variance. Where it is determined that the applicant has not satisfied the burdens of proof, or the requested variance is in excess of 50 percent of the required width, the application shall be reviewed by the full council.
4. Coastal buffer zone requirements for alterations to existing structures on residential lots. All calculations for the requirements of a coastal buffer zone shall be made on the basis of structural lot coverage as specified in §§ 1.1.11 and 1.3.1(C) of this Subchapter.
1. Applicants desiring a variance from the coastal buffer zone standards shall make such request in writing and address all requirements of § 1.1.7 of this Subchapter.
1. CRMC supports local efforts to adopt wetlands, streams, and shorelines by providing technical and permitting assistance when needed.
a. It is CRMC’s policy to protect horseshoe crab spawning areas. Beaches along Potowomut Neck from Sandy Point to Beachwood Drive, the northern shore of Chepiwanoxet Point, the southern shore of Buttonwoods Cove from the cove entrance to Ode Court and at Warwick City Park are recognized as horseshoe crab spawning areas.
a. Shoreline structures and activities that directly disturb horseshoe crab spawning or contribute to beach erosion along horseshoe crab spawning areas are prohibited.
a. Applicants for shoreline structure construction and maintenance and beach nourishment in the vicinity of horseshoe crab spawning areas shall limit activities during the months of May through July that may impact spawning.
a. CRMC supports wetland restoration programs in salt marshes and contiguous freshwater or brackish wetlands adjacent to coastal waters if significant degradation of wetland functions and values can be demonstrated.
b. CRMC shall pursue restoration efforts or support efforts of Warwick or nongovernment organizations to restore tidal wetland areas identified by the SAMP or the State Habitat Restoration Plan. These efforts will help achieve the Governor’s Narragansett Bay and Watershed Planning Commission goal of restoring 100 acres of coastal wetland by 2008.
6.4.3 Areas of Historic and Archaeological Significance (formerly § 930)
1. Preserve cultural, historical and archeological resources of the Greenwich Bay watershed.
2. Educate the public about the value of cultural, historical, and archeological resources of the Greenwich Bay watershed.
3. Conduct research to assist with the identification and preservation of cultural, historical and archeological resources of the Greenwich Bay watershed.
1. Applications for major activities within the Greenwich Bay watershed shall be forwarded to RIHPHC for review and comment as part of the standard CRMC regulatory process.
2. Applicants for activities proposed along the Greenwich Bay shoreline will have to perform archeological investigations when required by RIHPHC. Though other areas may exist and RIHPHC reserves the right to require additional information and potential studies, these areas are identified to give applicants a sound idea of areas of concern.
3. CRMC will await the response of RIHPHC prior to completion of its own staff review and subsequent council decision. Unless a variance is granted, CRMC will incorporate the RIHPHC guidance into its regulatory decision-making and permit stipulations. Applicants are encouraged to contact RIHPHC prior to filing with CRMC in order to expedite permitting.
4. Where possible, those sites identified by RIHPHC as having potential historical or archeological significance will be incorporated into the buffer zone by extending the boundary of the buffer where appropriate.
5. The state and municipalities will ensure that cultural, historical, and archeological assets are not compromised by runoff.
a. The CRMC will identify and grandfather existing commercial fishing docks in Greenwich Bay that have been in existence since 2000. Grandfather permits will be issued to those facilities provided at least 75% of the boats in the facility are used by commercial fishermen. Commercial fishing boats are those vessels used by RI licensed fisherman and that have the requisite DEM commercial license decal affixed to the boats. Once the facility falls below the 75% commercial fishing boat occupancy level, the CRMC permit will be revoked. For purposes of this section, commercial fishing docks are those facilities that have been in existence since 2000 and in which the majority of vessels berthed there at are commercial fishing boats.
b. It is the CRMC policy to provide for the continued viability of the commercial shellfish and finfish industry within Greenwich Bay, and accordingly will authorize preexisting commercial fishing docks provided they meet the criteria here in and submit an application to the CRMC within one (1) year from the date of adoption of these regulations. Afterwards, enforcement action will proceed.
a. Applicants for commercial fishing docks that meet the criteria in § 6.4.4(A)(1) of this Part must submit an application to the CRMC to include a site plan prepared by a Rhode Island registered professional engineer or professional land surveyor. The site plan must delineate a marina perimeter limit (MPL) with state plane coordinates (NAD 83) at each corner of the MPL.
b. In addition to the site plan, the application must include the following information:
(1) Proof of upland ownership and a lease agreement (if applicable) with land owner;
(2) List of abutting property owners;
(3) Description of the facility including all in-water and upland structures on the lot; and
(4) Total boat count at the facility including the number of commercial fishing boats.
c. CRMC approved commercial fishing docks may be subject to other state and federal permits. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain any other applicable permits.
d. The percentage of commercial fishing boats at any authorized dock must remain at or above 75% of the total boat count at the dock, otherwise the CRMC Executive Director may revoke the assent. Commercial fishing boats are those vessels used by RI licensed fisherman and that have the requisite DEM commercial license decal affixed to the boats.
e. When a commercial fishing dock assent is revoked it must be removed. Alternatively, the landowner can submit an application within sixty (60) days of CRMC notice and must meet all requirements pursuant to § 1.3.1(D) of this Subchapter.
f. Commercial fishing docks subject to these grandfather provisions do not meet provisions of § 1.3.1(D) of this Subchapter and are, therefore, considered temporary structures. Accordingly, provisions for removal or securing these commercial docks shall be made when a hurricane is predicted to impact the area within 48 hours.
a. A person is considered to be living aboard their boat if they inhabit their boat while berthed or moored on Greenwich Bay for six or more months of any given 12-month period.
a. The discharge of sewage, whether treated or untreated, from boats into tidal waters is prohibited.
b. Boats with people living aboard are prohibited from mooring or berthing in all tidal waters in Greenwich Bay unless they are within the boundaries of a marina that provides pumpout capability directly to boats. The boat shall be tied into the pumpout system at all times while it is moored or berthed.
a. All new or expanding marina facilities in Greenwich Bay shall provide marine pumpout capability in each slip that can accommodate a boat larger than 40 feet. All marinas should have pumpout capability in each slip that can accommodate a boat larger than 40 feet by 2014.
b. Marina pumpout facilities shall be placed in a convenient location for boaters to maximize the pumpout facility’s use, such as at a fuel dock.
a. It is CRMC policy to require sewer tie-ins to available sanitary sewer lines in the Greenwich Bay watershed. Inadequately treated wastewater from OWTS contributes to water-quality impairments in Greenwich Bay. It is important that these sources be mitigated through planned sewer extensions and mandatory tie-ins to new and existing sewers.
a. Applications to construct or alter a WWTF or to construct, alter, or extend sanitary sewer lines in the Greenwich Bay watershed shall include a plan for mandatory sewer tie-ins in residential and commercial developments.
a. The installation or replacement of existing ISDS is prohibited in areas where sanitary sewers are available in the Greenwich Bay watershed. Properties shall be tied in to the available sanitary sewers in these instances.
b. New expanded development shall not be allowed where sanitary sewers are available unless the property is tied in to the sewer system.
a. Mandatory sewer tie-in plans shall at least include location maps, draft ordinance language, enforcement provisions, and implementation schedules that will be used to create a mandatory sewer tie-in program.
b. Sewer tie-in plans shall include measures that make sewer tie-ins mandatory on land parcels that abut the portion of street or highway with a sewer line or within any new subdivisions that abut the sewer easement.
c. The mandatory sewer tie-in program shall be implemented and sewer tie-ins begin to be required within one year after completing WWTF improvements and sewer extensions for the areas within the Greenwich Bay watershed that currently have sewers and any new sewer extensions.
a. It is CRMC policy to facilitate public and private dredging needs while providing appropriate protection to shellfish, finfish, and other natural resources in Greenwich Bay and its coves.
a. Prior to any improvement dredging project, applicants shall be required to remove any significant shellfish in the sediments and transplant the shellfish to a RIDEM/CRMC-approved site. Appropriate sites include spawner sanctuaries, quahog resource preserves, or sites deemed appropriate by the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife and CRMC.
b. Prior to any maintenance dredging project, applicants shall be required to make the proposed dredging area available for RIDEM, CRMC, or other groups, such as the Rhode Island Shellfishermen’s Association, to remove any significant shellfish present in the sediments and transplant them to a RIDEM/CRMC-approved site. Appropriate sites include spawner sanctuaries, quahog resource preserves, or sites deemed appropriate by the RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife and CRMC.
a. The following areas are designated as quahog resource preserves:
(1) Mary’s Creek and the area delineated by the northern and southern edge of the Mary’s Creek salt marsh due east to the federal navigation channel.
(2) The area delineated by the shoreline and lines from Long Point westerly and coincident with Type 5 waters and the southernmost point of Chepiwanoxet Point due south to Long Point.
a. New structures and facilities are prohibited within quahog resource preserves.
1. It is CRMC policy to fully utilize § 1.3.6 of this Subchapter to continue to protect and provide for new public access sites as part of the ongoing permit process. CRMC shall ensure that all permitted activities maintain public access at CRMC-designated ROWs to Greenwich Bay and its coves. Where appropriate, CRMC shall require applicants to provide access of a similar type and level to that which is being impacted as the result of a proposed activity or development project.
2. It is CRMC policy that marinas, prior to seeking expansions, exhaust all options for making full use of existing in-water footprints.
3. It is CRMC policy to work cooperatively with RISAA, Warwick, East Greenwich, and nongovernment organizations to identify and adopt CRMC-designated ROWs on Greenwich Bay and its coves as part of the Adopt-A-ROW Program. The Adopt-A-ROW Program encourages citizen involvement with the cleanup and maintenance of public ROWs.
4. It is CRMC policy to work with the municipalities to identify and designate additional public ROWs listed in their harbor management plans. The municipalities and CRMC shall prioritize ROWs in areas with more limited access, such as Apponaug Cove, Warwick Neck, and the western and northern shore of Greenwich Bay. CRMC designation provides added enforcement, protection against encroachment, and limited liability protection for private landowners.
5. It is CRMC policy to encourage marinas along Greenwich Bay and its coves to voluntarily include provisions for public access in their permits. Marinas receive limited liability protection under state law if public access is stipulated in their CRMC permits (R.I. Gen. Laws § 32-6-5).
6. CRMC recognizes that, due to public safety, security, or environmental considerations, certain sites may not be appropriate for development of facilities that encourage physical access to the shoreline. It is CRMC’s policy to consider these issues during its ROW designation process. In the Greenwich Bay watershed, areas not appropriate for facilities that encourage physical access include, but are not limited to, salt and brackish marshes, such as Mary’s and Baker’s creeks and upper Brush Neck Cove; barrier beaches; and shallow silty waters.
7. It is CRMC policy to provide Warwick and East Greenwich with signs for posting at CRMC-designated ROWs. CRMC shall provide signs as needed at the request of the municipalities.
8. It is CRMC policy, in cooperation with Warwick and East Greenwich, to educate residents about their rights in respect to accessing the shore. Education shall include posting and maintaining a list of CRMC-designated ROWs at East Greenwich Town Hall and Warwick City Hall. In addition, CRMC recommends that citizens who wish to be involved in preserving public access:
a. Clean up public access sites and beaches
b. Participate in Adopt-A-Spot programs
c. Participate in local harbor management processes
d. Gather information necessary to designate public ROWs
e. Report the unlawful blockage of any public ROW to CRMC and/or to local officials
1. CRMC prohibits Warwick and East Greenwich from abandoning CRMC-designated ROWs along Greenwich Bay and its coves by unless new equivalent access is provided.
1. In cases where a CRMC-designated ROW exists on or adjacent to a land parcel where new structures are being proposed, applicants will survey their property line adjacent to the ROW. Any infringement on the ROW by the proposed activity will be eliminated.
2. Residential docks along Greenwich Bay and its coves should maintain reasonable access along the shoreline by providing access over the dock or at least a 5-foot clearance (above mean high water) under some portion of the dock.
1. Reconstruction after storms
a. When catastrophic storms, flooding, and/or erosion occur at a site under CRMC jurisdiction, and there is an immediate threat to public health and safety or immediate and significant adverse environmental impacts, the executive director may grant an emergency assent under Section 180 of the RICRMP.
b. A CRMC assent is required of all persons proposing to rebuild shoreline structures that have been damaged by storms, waves, or other natural coastal processes in the Greenwich Bay watershed. When damage to an individual structure is greater than 50 percent of the total square footage of that structure, post-storm reconstruction shall follow all standards and policies for new development in the area in which it is located.
c. Setback requirements from RICRMP Section 140 shall be applied.
d. All construction within FEMA flood zones must follow the required construction standards for the flood zone in which the structure is located. Municipal officials need to certify that these standards are correct and present on any application for activity submitted to CRMC.
(1) Construction in coastal high hazard flood zones (V zones) as defined by federal flood insurance rate maps, shall follow the regulations as listed in § 1.3.1(C) of this Subchapter, as amended.
(2) Construction in areas of coastal stillwater flood hazards (A zones), as defined by flood insurance rate maps, shall follow the regulations listed in § 1.3.1(C) of this Subchapter, as amended.
e. A CRMC maintenance assent is required to repair structures where less than 50 percent of the total square footage of the structure has been destroyed by storms, waves, or natural processes.
f. CRMC encourages post-storm reconstruction applicants to increase setbacks further from the coastal feature than the previous development without expanding the footprint.
2. Marinas that are expanding or replacing piers or docks shall meet the new construction requirements for marinas.
3. When concentrated losses occur, CRMC may issue special 30-day permits to marinas and other marine operators for removing debris such as sunken or burning vessels and materials on wetlands, in the coves, and in Greenwich Bay.
4. Wetlands and coastal buffers, which are significant in shielding flood-prone areas from storm damage, shall be considered priorities for preservation.
1. Filling, removing or grading is prohibited on beaches, dunes, undeveloped barrier beaches, coastal wetlands, cliffs and banks, and rocky shores adjacent to Type 1 and Type 2 waters, including in the Greenwich Bay watershed, unless the primary purpose of the alteration is to preserve or enhance the area as a natural habitat for native plants and wildlife or for beach replenishment.
2. Post-storm reconstruction is prohibited from occurring within the setback area of V flood zones when damage to an individual structure is greater than 50 percent of the total square footage of that structure.
1. A significant amount of construction within Rhode Island’s coastal zone has the potential to fall within a FEMA-designated flood zone. The approximate limits of the flood zones and the associated base flood elevations are shown on FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which are commonly available at municipal building departments. CRMC requires all applicants proposing construction within flood hazard zones to demonstrate that applicable portions of the R.I. State Building Code, which contains requirements for flood zone construction, are addressed.
2. When considering applications for the construction of residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational structures, including utilities such as gas, water, and sewer lines, in high hazard areas, these actions should be consistent with state policies as contained in the hazard mitigation plan element of the state guide plan (CRMC, 1997).
3. Piling standards need to be adapted to accommodate the 100-year flood rule to protect boats and coastal assets.
4. Marinas are required to update facilities to the current design and building standards when they apply for significant expansions of 25% or more.
1. It is CRMC policy with the assistance of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and URI-CE to require municipal and state programs to use integrated pest management (IPM) or less-toxic pesticides and watershed-friendly fertilizers, such as controlled-release fertilizers, in public parks, along highways, and on other public properties within 200 feet of a shoreline (coastal) feature.
2. It is CRMC policy to work cooperatively with the four golf courses in the Greenwich Bay watershed to help them achieve a Green Golf Course designation. CRMC in cooperation with URI-CE will work with golf course superintendents to help their courses meet standards and certify those courses as Green Golf Courses.
1. A Green Golf Course should:
a. Maintain at least 0.25-inch height cut on greens
b. Plant velvet bentgrass on greens
c. Use IPM or other alternative practices to pesticides
d. Use controlled-release fertilizers
e. Install the most current irrigation technology
f. Educate members and golfers on the benefits of green golf course practices
1. It is CRMC policy to provide technical assistance to nongovernment organizations disseminating public education and outreach materials on the contributions pet and wildlife wastes make to bacterial contamination in Greenwich Bay, including problems with bird feeding along the Greenwich Bay shoreline and tributaries.
|Title||650||Coastal Resources Management Council|
|Chapter||20||Coastal Management Program|
|Part||6||Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program - Greenwich Bay SAMP (650-RICR-20-00-6)|
|Type of Filing||Direct Final Amendment|
Regulation Authority :
R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-23 et seq.
Purpose and Reason :
The purpose of the proposed rule is to reformat and codify the existing policies and standards of Chapter 9 of the Greenwich Bay Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) and to codify the rules in accordance with the new uniform state Rhode Island Code of Regulations. Additionally, the rules are being amended at § 6.4.1(C)(4) to delete repetitive coastal buffer zone standards that are already specified in §§ 1.1.11 and 1.3.1(C) of this Subchapter, and at § 6.4.1(D) to delete repetitive variance standards that are already specified in § 1.1.7 of this Subchapter.