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Ocean Mist Starts Petition Against Matunuck Sea Wall

Thousands of signatures collected in just a few days in advance of pivotal June 24 CRMC hearing.

Waves splash against the pilings that hold up the Ocean Mist in October, 2013. (Patch file photo)
Waves splash against the pilings that hold up the Ocean Mist in October, 2013. (Patch file photo)
The owners of the Ocean Mist have circulated an online petition in the hopes of drumming up opposition of the proposed sheetpile wall the town of South Kingstown hopes to build in Matunuck as an erosion prevention measure.

In just a few short days, the petition has garnered more than 2,400 signatures and has spread across social media like wildfire.

Ocean Mist owner Kevin Finnegan has opposed the wall throughout the years-long review and approval process, arguing that it will actually worsen the erosive effects of storms and wave action and permanently damage the famous oceanfront hotspot.

"Our position is that it makes more sense to re-build the existing seawall, where it has historically been for many years," the petition states. "This wall is farther out towards the ocean, will better protect the road, the water main, the beach, the Ocean Mist, Tara's Pub and many private landowners. AND it would be at Kevin Finnegan's, the owner of the Ocean Mists expense. The Town can use the State's Department of Transportation (DOT) money to do other projects in other areas of the Town."

Though the petition carries no legal weight, it does raise attention on Finnegan's cause. And that is to fill a Coastal Resources Management Council hearing on June 24 in Providence, where he will continue his fight against the proposal, which was OK'd in a 9-0 vote by the coastal council in May.

The 202-foot wall would be constructed west of the Ocean Mist on Matunuck Beach Road. The May approval followed a lengthy process in which the town was first rejected in a 7-2 vote by the coastal council, which led to a town appeal, then an approval, then an appeal of that approval by Finnegan in Superior Court. 

Finnegan got a favorable ruling there, which sent the matter back to the CRMC.

Finnegan said the proposed wall won't prevent erosion, despite assurances from the town and the engineers who designed the wall in response to the same concerns raised by CRMC at its first denial.

"Not only will their proposed wall not protect anything, the act of drilling the sheet piles for it will most likely damage the Ocean Mist irreparably," Finnegan said. "Since Hurricane Sandy, there is increased precedent for permits to be granted for the rebuilding of sea walls like the one that has historically existed adjacent to the Ocean Mist. The Ocean Mist and Kevin Finnegan want to take on the responsibility and the cost to repair and maintain the already existing historic wall, which in our eyes is a win-win for everyone."

Find the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-ocean-mist

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