Friday, March 24, 2006

Greenwich Take Note: Here's a Plan to Make Sure More People Can Use the Beaches in Rhode Island

More access to the beach and the water for everyone – that’s what two state legislator’s in Rhode Island want. They’ve introduced a bill that would guarantee it. According to the New London Day, the law would:

… better define the beach area. The state Constitution says people shall enjoy fishing and swimming rights, in addition to passage along the shore, but does not define what “the shore” is.

The proposed bill defines it as a 10-foot wide strip of sand above the high tide line, even if the land is deeded privately.

“The intent is to be able to freely walk, without having to wade into the water,” McHugh said, because property owners “don't own the actual beach.”

It would also authorize the Coastal Resource Management Council to require landowners to remove any obstacles they have to build to keep the public off their property.

Those barriers include fences, walls, or riprap, which are boulders put in the ocean, McHugh said.

Is there a northeastern state that is more progressive when it comes to allowing people to get to the publicly-owned waters? I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard but I’ve heard that private beaches are the norm rather than the exception. But on Block Island I’ve never found a beach that’s not opened to the public (although the beach at Ballard’s may be an exception). This bill, should it become law, would strengthen that.


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