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Fate of waterfront under debate

Rhode Island's Coastal Resource Management Council denied a request from the city Department of Planning and Development Wednesday that would have changed the water classification of the waters in front of the former Shooters nightclub site, according to a press release issued by the Fox Point Neighborhood Association.

John Rousseau, the association's executive secretary, said changing the water classification would allow a developer to build on the Shooters site without showing how the construction would impact the waterfront.

The site has been a point of contention between the community residents and developers, Rousseau said, as many Fox Point residents are concerned the site will be used to build a condominium or other sites that would not be for public use. According to Rousseau, changing the water classification from a Type 6, industrial waterfronts use, to a Type 4, multipurpose use, would allow for a condominium complex to be constructed.

Instead, the neighborhood association wants to see the site turned into a public marina. "Most medium-sized cities on a bay or ocean have a public waterfront," Rousseau said. "Providence does not."

But according to Robert Azar, the Department of Planning and Development's director of current planning, Type 6 waters do not allow for the establishment of a public marina.

"Without that change, the vision those neighborhood folks have for that site can't be realized," Azar said.

The request to change the water type classification was submitted Jan. 20 by Thomas Deller, director of the planning department. In the proposal, Deller wrote that the idea to change the classification for the Shooters site was a logical extension of a previous request to change the nearby site of India Point to a Type 4 classification. Azar said the proposed change to the Shooters site was "more compatible with the comprehensive plan vision."

Rousseau, however, said the Shooters site marina could operate as a Type 6 because it had been a marina in the past.

Azar said the planning department would continue to work with the Coastal Resource Management Council and city residents and strive to "serve the broadest public interest." The issue of the land will be readdressed at a Feb. 23 City Plan Commission meeting.




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