WAKEFIELD–South Kingstown’s Waterfront Advisory Committee met Wednesday evening to continue discussion about a proposed lease expansion for shellfish aquaculture in Potter Pond’s Segar Cove. Residents offered comments about the many recreational uses of the pond, their appreciation for it’s backwater charm and how a working business would negatively affect other users. The committee received 58 letters about the application with only one being in support. 

Applicant Perry Raso spoke to the beneficial aspects of aquaculture, stressing that   he feels it would be a proper use of the pond, along with other activities. 

“We have a mooring field, several mooring fields, south of the proposed site. Those are also for individual user groups,” Raso said. 

Discussion ensued that recreational users of Segar Cove were not being considered equally with shellfish farmers who can rely on a an expansion footprint of 5 percent in salt ponds. 

“This is not a fitting use of that water,” said one resident. 

Harbormaster Michael Stach spoke to the manner in which information about CRMC applications are broadcast through town resources. Public notices from state agencies like CRMC are added to related committee agendas and posted on the town’s website. People can also be added to CRMC’s email list and be advised of actions and applications. Concerned that the process failed to adequately alert users of the pond to applications such as this, resident David Latham disagreed.

“You use the word broadcast,” Latham said. “It seems to me extremely narrowcast.” 

Committee member Michael Sherry referenced his 66 years on the pond. 

“We do trade off a lot of the input from you guys, which is very important, but also CRMC’s rules, we have to look at what’s allowable in the current rules and trade that off,” said Sherry. “There is active consideration going on of all dimensions.” 

South Kingstown Town Manager Robert Zarnetske reminded the crowd that the advisory committee is just that; their vote to approve or deny would only be a step in a process managed by the state. As Potter Pond is a state managed waterbody, the town has no jurisdiction over aquaculture leases and can offer only advisory opinions on applications. Several comments were made to the committee, asking them to consider the weight of their collective concerns along with the time and effort required to submit the letters. 

“You’re going to have start preserving water space as well as land space,” said resident Marilyn Mattera.  

Zarnetske also informed attendees that the town had asked for and received, an extension from CRMC until the February 16 to review and offer comment on the application. At the meeting’s end, a unanimous vote was cast to object to the application. Letters received from the committee will be sent to CRMC and entered into the public record. 

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