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Matunuck Headlands Coastal Erosion SAMP Culls One Applicant


South Kingstown – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC)  received one application and action plan under its Experimental Erosion Control program for Matunuck Headlands as of Friday afternoon.

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Mark Melnick’s Matunuck Beach Road home sits on barrier beach exposed to the waters of Block Island Sound. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill 2014)

Mark Melnick, whose home sits along the 675 feet of headland designated under the Special Area Management Plan abutting Block Island Sound in Matunuck filed a CRMC Preliminary Determination request in February to install experimental coastal erosion control technology on his beachfront property.

“I bought the house and I fell in love with it,” said Melnick in an interview on Sunday. “I’m trying to do the right thing here. I’m restoring the dunes that were here. I’ve replanted the dunes, planted sea grass. I’ve filed an application with CRMC to install marine mattresses.”

In a letter dated February 24, 2014, Melnick’s engineers, submitted an abbreviated preliminary determination plan to CRMC, stating “The type of erosion control proposed under this application is the use of marine mattresses, per the Experimental Coastal Erosion Control Application Guidance Document.”

The lone application under CRMC’s Experimental Coastal Erosion Control Program, Melnick’s plan calls for the placement of cobble filled marine mattresses, installed on the beach, beach ramp and dike on his property.

Preliminary review by CRMC staff and the Technical Review Panel (TRP) found,

“the proposed cobble filled marine mattresses represent an appropriate experimental erosion control program (device) for the site.” 

Melnick, who received the written determination and recommendations from CRMC at his home in Matunuck over the weekend, planned to discuss the agencies findings with his engineer and CRMC staff.

Melnick's property sits between hardened structures on both sides. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill 2014)

Melnick’s property sits between hardened structures on both sides. A recently collapsed portion of rebuilt dune is shown. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill 2014)

“The problem that exists is that I’m a soft structure surrounded by hard structures,” said Melnick. “Whatever is in between takes the force of the waves.”

Family, future central to homeowner’s erosion plan

“I’m open to continued dialogue,” said Melnick. “I’m doing this because I’d like to give this home to my 7 year old son, Nathan some day.”

The next step in the agency process is submission of a full application and plans incorporating agency recommendations to CRMC for approval.

In an interview on Thursday, Jeff Willis, Deputy Director at CRMC addressed the Matunuck SAM plan. 

“As far as the SAM Plan is concerned, the experimental erosion regulations require a panel to review and provide recommendations,” said Willis.  “Mark Melnick is the only affected property owner who has applied for experimental erosion control under the SAMP.”

Melnick’s property sits on Atlantic coastal waters designated Type 1, Conservation Area.  According to The Salt Pond SAMP Section 980,(SAMP),  “The tidal waters abutting the entire south coast shoreline, including the headlands of Misquamicut and Matunuck, are classified as Type 1 in the State’s coastal program.

Recently planted sea grass plugs are included in Melnick's plan to restore the dunes on his property. (Photo Tracey C. O'Neill 2014)

Recently planted sea grass plugs are included in Melnick’s plan to restore the dunes on his property. (Photo Tracey C. O’Neill 2014)

§ 980 – These Type 1 waters include “some of the most dynamic and naturally scenic features in Rhode  Island” and “are particularly unsuitable for structures due to their exposure to severe wave action, flooding, and erosion.”

Staff and TRP recommendations for Melnick’s plan include periodic review, monitoring, maintenance and replenishment.

The SAMP, in addressing the experimental coastal erosion zone, specifically identifies the risk to property owners along Matunuck Beach Road.

“The Matunuck Headland Business District extends from a revetment terminating at the South Kingstown Town Beach to a smaller shoreline protection structure approximately 1400 feet to the east (See Figure 9-10). The Matunuck Business District consists of commercial and residential properties. All properties within the business district along the south side of Matunuck Beach Road are located on or less than 50 feet from the beach. Several properties are currently located on the active beach and are at high risk for damage due to storms. Properties on the headland are at high risk for storm surge damage and erosion of the underlying headland and overwash sediment deposits. The erosion and undercutting of these deposits may lead to the collapse of the structures and damage to or loss of associated private and public infrastructure.” – Salt Pond Region Special Area Management Plan, Adopted September 10, 2013/Effective October 7, 2013

CRMC experimental erosion controls are considered short-term strategies according to the SAMP. The Matunuck coastal erosion controls are scheduled to expire in October 2019, unless otherwise extended.


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