A History of the Proposed Champlin’s Marina Expansion
We’ve heard from many with questions about the long controversial history over the Champlin’s Marina expansion. We hope this detailed history will help provide context for interested members and supporters.
Champlin’s Marina applies to the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) for a 240-foot dock extension into the Great Salt Pond, essentially doubling the size of the marina, already the largest on Block Island.
A coalition that includes the Town of New Shoreham, the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, the Block Island Land Trust, and the Block Island Conservancy, collectively known as “the Respondents”, is formed to oppose the proposed expansion as it would eliminate a significant portion of the Town’s mooring field, infringe upon the public navigational channel, obstruct access to shellfishing grounds, and cause environmental harm to the Great Salt Pond. The Respondents file substantive objections to the proposed expansion with the CRMC, which converts the Champlin’s Marina application to a contested case. The CRMC is required to hold public hearings for the development of an evidentiary as a basis for a decision.
The Respondents obtain “intervenor” status and become full parties to the contested proceedings before the CRMC. Since then, the four groups have participated in every hearing and court case regarding the Champlin’s expansion.
CRMC holds public hearings for more than two years about the proposed expansion.
The CRMC votes to deny the Champlin’s Marina application to expand their dock.
Champlin’s Marina files an appeal to the Rhode Island Superior Court, which grants Champlin’s permission for a substantial expansion. The Respondents petition the Rhode Island Supreme Court for a review of the case. The Supreme Court grants the petition and begins its review.
The Rhode Island Supreme Court reverses the Superior Court’s decision to allow the Champlin’s expansion because certain pieces of evidence had not been disclosed to all the parties. The Supreme Court remands the case back to the CRMC, instructing the CRMC to receive further evidence and to formulate a new decision. Significantly, as part of its ruling, the Supreme Court affirms the Respondents’ standing in the case. This is important because it means that no decisions about the expansion can be made without the participation of the Respondents.
The CRMC conducts further hearings and issues its final decision to deny the Champlin’s expansion.
Champlin’s Marina files an administrative appeal to the Superior Court.
February 20, 2020
The Rhode Island Superior Court concludes that after reviewing the entire administrative record, CRMC findings were amply supported by the evidence and consistent with applicable law.
June 17, 2020
The Rhode Island Superior Court enters its final judgment in favor of the Respondents and CRMC and against Champlin’s Marina.
Late Summer and Fall 2020
Champlin’s Marina petitions the Rhode Island Supreme Court for a review of the case. The Respondents appear before the Court and submit evidence in opposition to the petition.
October 19, 2020
The Rhode Island Supreme Court grants the petition and begins its review.
November 30, 2020
Anthony DeSisto, Esq., counsel to the CRMC, emails Katherine Merolla, Esq., Town Solicitor for the Town of New Shoreham, to say that the CRMC “had voted to participate in mediation for the Champlin’s case, on the condition that the Town of New Shoreham also participate.”
December 3, 2020
Katherine Merolla, Town Solicitor, receives an email from retired Chief Justice Frank Williams, the proposed mediator between CRMC and Champlin’s, stating he was “trying to [g]et you to have new Shoreham join Champlin’s and Coastal in mediation”. Merolla responds to both Desisto and Williams that the matter would be considered by the Town Council at its next meeting on December 7, 2020.
December 7, 2020
The Town Council declines to participate in mediation between CRMC and Champlin’s. Several reasons led the Council to this decision, including the fact that CRMC has no jurisdiction over the case as it is under review by the Rhode Island Supreme Court and there was no court order requiring mediation. Of additional concern are the facts that CRMC gave no notice to the other Respondents and that the proposed mediator, retired Chief Justice Williams, was one of the four justices who heard the 2010 appeal to the Supreme Court and dissented from the decision, arguing in favor of the expansion. The Respondents would not have accepted his mediation of the case in light of his prior rejection of the Respondents’ opposition to the marina.
December 23, 2020
Champlin’s Realty Associates Limited Partnership by its general partner, Champlin’s Realty Associates, Inc., sells Champlin’s Marina to Great Salt Pond Marina Property, LLC for $25 million.
December 29, 2020
Champlin’s Marina and CRMC enter into a closed-session mediation. As a result of this mediation, Champlin’s is granted a 156-foot dock extension into the public navigational channel and Town mooring field.
January 8, 2021
Champlin’s Marina and the CRMC file their joint motion to the Rhode Island Supreme Court asking the Court to bless and implement a Memorandum of Understanding between them that grants the Champlin’s dock expansion and purports to extinguish the Respondents’ rights.
February 8, 2021
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha petitions the Rhode Island Supreme Court to intervene in the case in order to “protect Rhode Island’s unique coastal environment and ensure that the CRMC follows the legal requirements necessary to a democratic process before approving Champlin’s bid to expand its marina.”
February 16, 2021
The Respondents file an objection to the December 2020 agreement reached by the Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) and Champlin’s Marina, to permit Champlin’s significant dock expansion.
This page will be updated frequently to include developments in this rapidly evolving issue.