CRMC Designation of Public Right-of-Ways to the Tidal Areas of the State
July 1999 through June 2000

The latest available Right-of-Way report is for June 2004. Public ROW's in the June 2000 have not changed for the June 2004 report.


During the report period of July 1999 to June 2000, and in accordance with its legislative mandate at GLRI 46-23-17, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has continued to discover and designate public rights-of-way to the tidal areas of the state.

Beginning in 1978, the CRMC has been tasked by the legislature to carry out the continued discovery and designation of all public rights-of-way to the shore. To meet this charge, the CRMC created its Subcommittee on Rights-of-Way. Significant actions of the subcommittee during the report period July 1999 through June 2000 include the following:

Any decision resulting in a public right-of-way designation by the Council is permanently recorded with the Secretary of State. The cumulative efforts of the CRMC and its ROW subcommittee are as follows:

Total Number of Potential ROWs Reviewed 348
Sites Designated as Public ROWs 216
Sites Found to Be Not Public 73
Sites That Are Not Resolved 35
New Sites Under Review 11
Sites That Are on Appeal 15


The goal of the CRMC is to designate at least one public right-of-way for each mile of shoreline.  With 216 sites designated as public, and with 420 miles of Rhode Island shoreline, the CRMC is better than half-way to reaching its goal.

Town-by-Town Analysis of the Council's Actions Regarding Site Designations and Public Rights-of-Way to the Shore

The following represents a town-by-town analysis of the Council's actions regarding the review of various sites and their potential designations as public rights-of-way to the shore.  This is the official listing of the Council's actions regarding its designation process for public rights-of-way.

Where applicable, the following terms mean:

Sites Found Not Public The Council reviewed these sites and based on the evidence submitted into the record at the time of the hearing, found that insufficient evidence existed to designate these sites as public rights-of-way to the shore.  However, further review may occur for these sites given new evidence.
Sites Not Resolved The Council previously investigated these sites and made no determination as to whether or not these sites are public rights-of-way to the shore.  They are not currently being investigated by the Council; however, further review may occur for these sites given new evidence.
Under Review Sites which are currently being considered by the subcommittee.
On Appeal Decisions of the Council which are being challenged through the courts.


Funding remains a chronic problem for the rights-of-way program.  Current federal and state appropriation specifically earmarked for this task were level funded in response to state budget problems in past fiscal years.  Original funding for the CRMC ROW program was designated at $30,000; previous year's allocation have been approximately $15,000.  For the past few years, the Council's ROW program has been funded at $5,000. 

The reduced monies must still cover legal, stenographer, hearing officer, travel, advertising, and staff costs.  This year, even with town assistance in the form of legal research, the ROW process has been hindered.  This is evidenced by the fact that no new rights-of-way were designated during this report period.

Likewise, given previous report periods (1993/94 to date), the CRMC has only been able to designate, on average, just better than 6 public ROWs per report year. However, no new ROWs were designated during the past two report years (1998-1999 and 1999-2000).  This is primarily due to funding constraints, which include comprehensive legal research, and time-consuming public hearings (the purpose of which is to exhaust evidence), resulting in site designations that span reporting periods.  The CRMC has had to reduce funding to the ROW program due to overall decreased program funding.

Therefore, it is likely that due to further decreases in state appropriations, and the resulting decreases in federal monies (a 1:1 match is required with federal funding), it may be necessary for the Council to come close to zero-funding its rights-of-way program next fiscal year.  As state appropriations dwindle, the Council is faced with using federal funding to cover operational costs, thereby losing such programs as the ROW designation process.  Further, if one were to take into consideration the monetary cost of trying to purchase those CRMC-designated public access areas at current market value, it would easily amount in the millions.  Thus the state has reaped a high rate of return for monies expended on this program.  By demonstrating how successful the Council's efforts vis-a-vis rights-of-way designations and their impact to the state's quality of life, the Council will continue to lobby for additional state appropriations, especially those appropriations earmarked for public shoreline access.

CRMC-Designated Rights-of-Way

Block Island
East Greenwich
East Providence
Little Compton
North Kingstown
South Kingstown

Rhode Island Sea Grant