Risom named to CRMC reorganization commission

Thu, 08/19/2021 - 6:15pm

Second Warden Sven Risom has been named to a commission to study the reorganization of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. The new commission was formed as a result of R.I. House of Representatives legislation that was approved on June 29.
According to a press release from the RI General Assembly, “the 15-member commission is to comprehensively study and provide recommendations for the reorganization of the CRMC and issue its findings and recommendations by April 1, 2022.”
“I am honored to be appointed to the House Committee to review and recommend reforms to the CRMC,” Risom told The Times. “I believe the CRMC is a critical Rhode Island agency, especially light of sea-level rise and changing environmental conditions.”
Currently, the CRMC is supposed to be made up of 10 members, nine of whom are appointed by the governor, and one person from the R.I. Department of Environmental Management who serves “ex officio.” Of the nine, six are supposed to be elected or appointed officials in their communities, and this group is further broken down to three from communities of less than 25,000 people, and three from communities of more than 25,000 people. At least five out of the six are also supposed to be from coastal communities.

The remaining three members are appointed by the governor from the public, with the “advice and consent” of the senate, and at least one of the three is supposed to come from a coastal community.
Members serve for three-year terms, but if they lose their elected or appointed position, they must be replaced. When their terms expire, they may remain on the CRMC until replaced or reappointed.

There has been controversy surrounding the CRMC, especially in the past nine months. There was the news in late December 2020 that members had met in closed session and negotiated a settlement with Champlin’s Marina that would allow them a dock expansion – a reversal of the CRMC’s previous decisions to disallow the expansion. That matter has been in court for the past 18 years and is still unresolved.
Five of the current CRMC members happened to be up for senate confirmation of their reappointment in February, and when the news spread of the behind-closed-doors deal with Champlin’s was made, the vote was pulled from the senate floor. Since then CRMC Chair Jennifer Cervenka has resigned.

Although this is a House of Representatives commission, Block Island’s Senator Susan Sosnowski sponsored the legislation in the senate in 2019. She told The Block Island Times: “I am delighted that the House is moving forward with a similar commission and that they have named councilman Sven Risom as a member.”

Sosnowski also said that the organization of a commission on the senate side was delayed because of Covid. “However, I anticipate that the Senate commission will be extended and appointed, and that it will conduct a robust inquiry into how the reorganization of the CRMC and its operations and management procedures could provide for increased efficiencies, opportunities and protection of our coastal resources.”

Risom joins House Representatives Deborah Ruggiero, Lauren Carson, Arthur Handy, and Michael Chippendale; Save the Bay Director of Advocacy Topher Hamblett; Jamestown Town Administrator Jamie Hainsworth; Exeter Town Planner William DePasquale Jr.; Newport City Manager Joe Nicholson Jr.; RI Builders Association CEO John Marcantonio; RI Saltwater Anglers Association President Richard Hittinger; RI Shellfisherman’s Association President Michael McGiveney; University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography Dean Paula Bontempi; Audubon Society of RI Executive Director Lawrence Taft; and Westerly Town Planner Nancy Letendre.
The Commission’s first step will be to hold an organizational meeting.