06-R 345

2006 -- H 7317 SUBSTITUTE A

Enacted 06/22/06



H O U S E  R E S O L U T I O N




     Introduced By: Representatives Ginaitt, McHugh, Naughton, McNamara, and Long

     Date Introduced: February 15, 2006



     RESOLVED, That the general assembly recognizes and declares the right of passage

along the shore of Rhode Island is not only guaranteed in the constitution but has enjoyed a long

use going back to our early days of statehood and is a matter of custom in Rhode Island. The

passage along the shore has in the ancient past and today been along the dry sand portion of the

beach. The general assembly finds that the public trust doctrine entitles the public to swim in the

ocean and to use the foreshore in connection therewith without assuring the public of a feasible

lateral access route would seriously impinge on, if not effectively eliminate, the rights of the

public trust doctrine. To find otherwise would result in a barrier of privately-held property

between publicly-owned trust lands and the vast majority of the public who own this common

resource. The general assembly recognizes and declares that lateral access along the shore of

Rhode Island is critical to the state's tourism economy. The general assembly also recognizes that

while it is an ancient document that much of our common law for coastal resources is built on, it

is also a dynamic and evolving doctrine that is expected to adjust to societal needs. Tradition and

common understanding in Rhode Island has always been that the public has a right to use the dry-

sand beach for passage along the shore and for fishing from, even if the title to that land is held in

private ownership. The general assembly recognizes that until the courts more fully explore and

define our constitutional rights to the shore there is a need to protect the public right to pass along

the shore areas in the state. In addition the scope of the private right to property is always

balanced against public rights in the use of that property, such as a neighbor's right to bring an

action for nuisance. In essence, the private property owner maintains a title to the dry-sand

beach, but certain components of ownership, such as the ability to share in reasonable use of the

beach, are held by the general public.

     The general assembly also recognizes that the public's rights in these areas are defined by

the constitution and not completely unfettered in these areas.

     RESOLVED, That a special House commission be and the same is hereby created

consisting of nine (9) members: three (3) of whom shall be members of the House of

Representatives, one from the minority party, all of whom shall represent a coastal community, to

be appointed by the Speaker of the House; one of whom shall be the Executive Director of the

Coastal Resources Management Council, or designee; one of whom shall be a representative of

the Rhode Island Realtors Association; and one of whom shall be the Rhode Island Attorney

General, or designee with experience in shoreline access issues; one of whom shall be the

Executive Director of the Conservation Law Foundation, or designee; one of whom shall be a

member of a chamber of commerce from a coastal community, to be appointed by the speaker of

the house; and one of whom shall be a land use attorney, to be appointed by the speaker of the


      The purpose of said commission shall be to make a comprehensive study of the issues

relating to lateral access along the Rhode Island shoreline as protected within the Rhode Island


     Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at

the call of the Speaker of the House and organize and shall select, from among the legislators, a

chairperson. Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original


      The membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.

      All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information,

documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or

desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.

      The Speaker of the House is hereby authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters

for said commission; and be it further

     RESOLVED, That the commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the

House of Representatives no later than January 30, 2007.



LC00891/SUB A/2