Years on, Champlin’s expansion awaiting decision

Fri, 04/13/2018 - 8:30am

A lawsuit that the Town of New Shoreham has been litigating since 2003 involving marina expansion on the Great Salt Pond is still awaiting a judge’s decision. That’s according to Town Solicitor Don Packer, who informed the Town Council at its April 2 meeting that the parties involved in the “companion case” are awaiting a decision from a Superior Court Judge involving a marina expansion request made by Champlin’s Marina.

“The cases are basically about the Coastal Resources Management Council’s recommendation by its staff to grant Champlin’s an expansion,” said Packer, who noted that, “Champlin’s wanted a substantial expansion. The CRMC decision gave them a little bit of an expansion. We appealed it because we’re opposing any expansion.”

The four parties involved in what Packer calls a “companion case” concerning the marina expansion are: Champlin’s Realty Associates, the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, the Town of New Shoreham, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. Companion cases are a group of two or more cases consolidated by an appellate court while on appeal that are decided collectively. Packer provided the Town Council with a brief update concerning the litigation in open session. 

Packer said one case involves Champlin’s Marina appealing the recommendation of the CRMC’s staff to grant an expansion, but not the (four acre) expansion they originally requested. The other case, he said, is “the town’s appeal of the CRMC’s decision to grant an expansion — period.” Packer noted that the town’s appeal was driven by the CRMC’s condition that the town’s “Mooring Field E be drawn to allow a 300-foot-wide navigational channel between the mooring field and Champlin’s Marina, as well as other existing marinas in the pond.”

Champlin’s Marina owner Joseph Grillo Sr. has been seeking a marina expansion to accommodate the increased size of pleasure boats that arrive at New Harbor. The marina provides dockage for about 170 boats during a peak holiday weekend during the summer season.

In 2003, Champlin’s Marina requested an expansion of its marina by four acres, or 240 feet further into the pond that would include an additional 2,990 feet of fixed pier, and 755 feet of floating docks, to accommodate 140 more boats in Type 3 high intensity use waters. In 2006, a CRMC subcommittee denied the marina expansion request by a tie vote (5-5). The CRMC subcommittee held 23 public hearings on the matter. 

As for where the marina expansion stands now, Packer said, “The marina is not being expanded. The last brief was filed in March of 2014, and it’s in the judge’s bailiwick until a decision is rendered.”

When discussion of the case continued, First Warden Ken Lacoste reminded the attendees that the Town Council deliberates litigation in closed session, ending further discussion on the subject. The Town Council then went into closed session on litigation involving town opposition to Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s proposed high speed ferry service from Quonset Pt. to Block Island. Town Solicitor Katherine Merolla has been overseeing that case.