Question: Can I Build a Dock on my Water Front Property?

private residential dock, Poppasquash Point, Bristol

Answer:  Maybe.

Dock permits are issued by RI’s Coastal Resources Management Council. The CRMC classifies all RI’s coastal waters, and they allow residential docks in some types of waters and prohibit them in others.

The first step in determining whether you can build a dock is learning the water classification in your area.  Water classifications are designated in the CRMC Rules and Regulations, also called the CRMC Redbook.

In Type 2, 3, and 4 waters residential docks are allowed.  There are specific rules and requirements for locating a dock, but you can submit an application if your property abuts these waters.  In Type 1 waters, however, docks are prohibited.  Some people have grandfathered docks in Type 1 waters, which leads many to assume additional docks might be approved.  The truth is if you are in Type 1 water, and there is no grandfathered dock on your property already, you won’t get permission to build a new one.

If your water classification is 2, 3 or 4, then you can move ahead, design your dock and include the plans with your application.  Scott Rabideau of Natural Resource Services has helped many of our clients navigate through the permitting process which can be long and complex.

You never know for sure until your CRMC permit is in hand, but this primer will help you understand CRMC’s basic criteria for a residential dock.