Attorney General petitions to intervene in CRMC proceedings to designate Spring Avenue in Westerly as public right-of-way


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that his Office has petitioned Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) Subcommittee on Rights-of-Way to intervene in the matter of the Spring Avenue Extension in Westerly, a case that affects the State's coastal and environmental resources.


As an intervening party in the CRMC’s ongoing review of whether the Spring Avenue Extension in Westerly is a public-right-of-way the Attorney General seeks to affirmatively re-establish and proactively protect from encroachment an important public access point to the Westerly waterfront.


“The time has come to turn back the tide on private encroachment on the public’s right to access our coast and waterways, a right that is enshrined in our state’s constitution,” said Attorney General Neronha. “This Office will fight vigorously to ensure that the coastal access provided by the Spring Avenue right of way will be restored and preserved permanently.”


Motion to intervene


In the motion filed with the CRMC, the Attorney General has asked to intervene as the public officer charged with representing the State of Rhode Island, the public interest, and the people of the State, which includes environmental and public access matters. The Attorney General contends that the Spring Avenue Extension should be legally designated by the CRMC as a public right-of-way, describing the path as an important public access point to the Westerly waterfront and to valuable public trust resources.


On November 21, 2022, the Attorney General submitted a comment letter to the CRMC, explaining that the Spring Avenue Extension was accepted as a public right-of-way via both incipient dedication and statutory dedication. For generations, this access point has been used by beachgoers, fishermen, and other community members, a tradition that has recently been blocked by abutters and other interested parties.




Public Right-of-Way Protection by Attorney General Neronha


Public access to Rhode Island’s coastal and waterfront resources is a priority mission of the Attorney General, who is empowered to protect the public’s rights and interests in accessing our state’s coastal resources.


This action dovetails with previous efforts by Attorney General Neronha to protect Rhode Islanders’ access to coastal and waterfront access. Similar action has been taken by Attorney General Neronha, in coordination with CRMC and Save the Bay, in Providence (Public Street) and downtown Newport Harbor (Lee’s Wharf), where public access to the state’s waterways were or will be restored after the removal of hindrances.


View the filed motion here.