By JOHN HOWELL
An ordinance that would have updated the city’s Harbor Management Plan and virtually wiped out the local shellfishing industry and most of the city’s marinaswas …
An ordinance that would have updated the city’s Harbor Management Plan and virtually wiped out the local shellfishing industry and most of the city’s marinaswas amended before it was officially launched before the full City Council Monday night.
“Are we ready to close down the marinas? I don’t know where this came from,” said former Warwick director of public works, and brother to Mayor Frank Picozzi, David Picozzi. Picozzi, who works at Harbor Lights said whoever drafted provisions designed to protect shallow water habitat crazy and out of their minds.”
As defined in the proposed ordinance shallow water habitat is “subtidal waters where a depth of three meters is not attained within 100-200 feet of the shoreline and where the average waterbody depth is generally less than 3 meters.”
Mayor Picozzi said Tuesday the shallow water provision was suggested by the Coastal Resources Management Council and was not to have been included in the draft sent the council. Somehow it ended up in the document and those objecting to the provision wanted to ensure it was taken out.
Picozzi didn’t have far to go to come up with those sharing his point of view plus other provisions of the ordinance that would hurt marinas.
As the Council Ordinance Committee readied to consider the measure, Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur, who is a boater, stepped up with three amendments stripping the ordinance of shallow water habitat provisions and a requirement that all marina pump out stations be open 24-7.
“It would have a devastating effect on the shellfishing industry and local marinas,” Ladouceur said. He said the provision could “eliminate” the local shellfishing industry. Later in the meeting Michelle Komar who helped draft the existing harbor management plan with then Warwick Cove Marina owner John Williams said if adopted, the ordinance would prevent the harvesting of shellfish in Greenwich Bay He questioned the need for revising the ordinance he helped draft an estimated 20 years ago.. Richard Langseth of Buttonwoods, who spread the word on the ordinance, said it would have effectively closed two thirds of Greenwich Bay to all boating.
Mike McGivney, president of the Rhode Island Shellfisherman's Association, told the committee the ordinance would be devastating to the industry. As for keeping wastewater pump out station open around the clock, Ladouceur questioned who would pay to man them and what would stop boaters who have mistakenly filled their holding tanks with gasoline or diesel from adding that to what ends up at the waste water treatment plant. Picozzi reported of instances where pump out hoses were tossed in the bay that ended up pumping salt water to the detriment of the treatment plant.
Ladouceur surmised that the shallow water habitat restriction was added at the suggestion of the Coastal Resources Management Council. City Planner Tom Kravitz drafted the ordinance.
Komar questioned whether the ordinance had been passed by the Warwick Harbor Management Commission. She said no public workshop was conducted and the proposed ordinance did not reflect the differences between the current plan and what was being proposed. She also asked if the city faced a deadline to implement the plan.
Not all the reaction to the plan was negative.
Ladouceur favored the provision making the chief harbormaster and the assistants full or part time city employees. The harbormaster, a position approved by the council, currently receives a stipend. He pointed out harbormasters frequently use their own boats and pay for fuel out of their own pockets.
Langseth said the plan would not only require city approval but that of the Buttonwoods Fire District as an entity with Greenwich Bay waterfront. In conclusion the committee voted to recommend amending the Harbor Management Plan deleting language on shallow water habitat and leaving in placing harbormasters on the city payroll. After consulting with William Walsh, council solicitor, Ladouceur docketed a harbor plan ordinance that apparently will be drafted following an advertised workshop and effort to obtain public input.