South Kingstown – Resident, proprietor and homeowner, Kevin Finnegan is fighting back against the Town of South Kingstown’s plans to go forward with construction of a 202 ft. seawall. The plan calls for a sheet pile wall armament structure directly adjacent to the Ocean Mist, Finnegan’s famed beach bar in the seaside village of Matunuck.
Town Easement Circumvented Plan to Fix Existing Seawall
As posted on TraceyC-Media.com
VIDEO – Kevin Finnegan, Owner of the Ocean Mist at 895 Matunuck Beach Road, in the oceanside village of Matunuck said the Town’s negotiation and placement of an easement on property directly adjacent to the favored beach bar, inhibited his former right of first refusal in the purchase of the property.
Formerly owned by the late Mary Carpenter, the Town of South Kingstown purchased the property 2 years ago in a purchase and sales agreement (P&S) dated June 12, 2012. The access, construction and maintenance easement, dated May 30, 2012 and attached to the P&S was also executed on June 12.
“Before she passed, Steve Alfred and her assistants, [they] put an easement on it for portions of this sea wall,” said Finnegan in an interview. “So once she passed away and my first right of refusal came up, I could not buy that land because there was an easement on it. By me buying that land with that easement on it, then I was approving the seawall.”
Eatery and beachside bar by day, rocking nightclub after dusk, the Ocean Mist is known around the world as a “have to play” music venue for local and national music artists.
Court Remand Sends Parties back to CRMC for Resolution
Finnegan, business owners and residents of Matunuck Village will be on hand Tuesday evening, June 24th at a hearing before the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), set under a Superior Court remand to determine the Town’s compliance and proof of it’s efforts to mitigate adverse environmental impact. The agency, tasked with the preservation, protection, development and restoration of the state’s coastal areas in May 2012 applied a four-prong approach to dealing with coastal erosion, subsequently voting to approve the construction of a 202 ft sheet pile wall armament.
The Ocean Mist is not the only property of concern. Tara’s Tipperary Tavern sitting next door to the Ocean Mist, and several residential properties, including Finnegan’s that abut the stretch of 675 ft. of beach affected along Block Island Sound are also in jeopardy from coastal erosion, storm damage and sea level rise.
Subject of a pending lawsuit, the Town’s application for seawall construction, a public safety effort to protect the sole road in and out of the village, was challenged in court by Finnegan.
Meanwhile, Matunuck Beach Road, housing the main water supply to the village, lies in jeopardy due to severe coastal erosion from hurricanes, increasing coastal storms and the dreaded New England Nor’Easters.
Finnegan said the proposed sheet pile seawall construction posed damage to his property and the seawall construction easement prohibited him from purchasing the property from the former owner, the late, Mary Carpenter.
Finnegan also believed the town would be better served by repairing and maintaining the rip rap (stone armament) structure in place on the town’s property in lieu of sinking the sheet pile structure along the road. He offered not only to buy the property, but to pay for repairs and maintenance to the stone structure at no cost to the town or its taxpayers.
The Town disagreed with Finnegan’s plans and prepared to move forward with its project to build the seawall under a $1.6M transportation and infrastructure project. According to CRMC, Finnegan filed no plans with the agency.
“The CRMC currently has a pending application from the Town of South Kingstown for a sheet pile wall, and one application under our Experimental Erosion Control program that is going through the process. We have no other applications from any property owners in the Matunuck area.” ~ Laura Dwyer, Public Educator and Information Coordinator CRMC