5 Laws and Limitations Waterfront Property Owners Face in Rhode Island

With serene views and relaxing recreational opportunities, many people dream of purchasing waterfront property. However, there are some potential limitations to get clarification on before purchasing property on or near water. Here are five laws and limitations that waterfront property owners in Rhode Island should be aware of in order to protect their rights.

1. Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)

Rhode Island’s Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) helps to protect, develop, and restore coastal resources within the state. These regulations govern issues such as shoreline protection, land alteration, and construction. All waterfront property owners are subject to CZMA regulations and must ensure that they obtain the proper permits in accordance with the CZMA.

2. Public Access to Waterways

Rhode Island maintains a public trust doctrine in order to ensure that all residents have access to the state’s waterways. Therefore, waterfront property owners are prohibited from blocking public access or passage to and along the coastline. Prior to purchasing waterfront property, you should be aware of the public access points that are near your property so that you can keep those pathways clear for the public.

3. Environmental Protection Regulations

Rhode Island cares deeply about protecting the environment, especially the ecosystem of its coastal areas. That was the reason for the environmental protection regulations. All waterfront property owners should be aware of wetland protection laws, wastewater discharge regulations, and erosion control measures. If you plan on developing or constructing anything on your property you must be sure that you are adhering to these regulations.

4. Riparian Rights and Boundaries

Waterfront property owners are not without their own set of rights. These are known as riparian rights and govern these owners’ access and use of the water adjacent to their property. The state upholds the “riparian rights doctrine,” which allows property owners to access this water for basic ordinary usage. This may include activities such as boating or fishing. Still, there are limitations to this doctrine, and these rights and sometimes disputes concerning water boundaries between neighbors may come about.

5. Flood Insurance and FEMA Regulations

As with most coastal properties, those in Rhode Island are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges. This is why flood insurance is so important – to protect your property investment from potential damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also has its own regulations about building requirements in flood zones and designated hazard areas.

While owning waterfront property in Rhode Island can be incredible, it’s not without its own set of responsibilities to protect both property owners’ rights and the coastline’s ecosystem. Being aware of the laws and limitations that come with owning these properties is imperative in order to comply with state laws and maintain the integrity of these communities on the coastline. A real estate attorney can help to ensure you cover all of your bases.

PALUMBO LAW Helps Those in Rhode Island with Waterfront Properties

At PALUMBO LAW, our knowledgeable Rhode Island Real Estate attorneys understand Rhode Island property law and will work strategically to help our clients uphold and protect their rights. If you have purchased or are looking to purchase waterfront property, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!