By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — A packed room of supporters for the Ocean Mist bar on Matunuck Beach went home dejected June 24 after the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) declined to say environmental impacts weren't properly addressed in a proposed seawall — a project that Ocean Mist owner Kevin Finnegan believes will damage his property.
Plans for the 200-foot-long steel and concrete wall were approved in 2012 after much debate over efforts to save a stretch of Matunuck Beach Road, which serves as the only road to many summer homes and waterfront businesses.
After the recent three-hour hearing at the Department of Administration, the CRMC voted 5-4 to affirm the 2012 decision, saying it adequately considered the seawall's impact on Ocean Mist.
“It’s the least-imperfect option of all the imperfect options we have,” said CRMC member Tony Affigne, who voted in support of the decision.
The popular South Kingstown nightclub and eatery sits over a beach that has eroded significantly in recent decades. The building rests on wooden columns that flood with seawater at high tide. The back of the structure rests against the road and has no room to retreat inland.
Finnegan argued that remnants of an existing seawall next to his property should be rebuilt rather than a new sheet-pile wall, which he believes will accelerate erosion on his property. Most of the wall will be buried below ground. It will be capped with a sidewalk and 3-foot cement wall.
Finnegan got another piece of bad news when CRMC director Grover Fugate reminded him that he and other property owners on the crook of beach will receive new notices that they must remove a wooden stockade-style fence they recently installed without authorization behind their buildings.