KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 28, 2001 -- Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court on February 26, 2001 to defend the state's position that a Westerly, R.I., landowner should not be permitted to develop 18 acres of tidal wetlands along the state's shoreline. A verdict in the case of Palazzolo v. Rhode Island is expected by June 2001 and will impact the effectiveness of environmental protections for wetlands and habitat areas along the nation's coasts. At the request of Attorney General Whitehouse, Rhode Island Sea Grant Coastal Management Extension staff compiled 20 years' worth of tidal wetlands research as technical substance for the state's argument.
Recognizing Rhode Island Sea Grant's long-standing reputation as a national leader in science research and outreach, the state requested assistance in two areas. First, Sea Grant provided a quality and breadth of scientific research that enabled the Attorney General to reference it in both the state's law brief and science brief for the case. Second, several Rhode Island Sea Grant scientists of national renown who are affiliated with the University of Rhode Island (URI) responded to the Attorney General's request by submitting a science amicus brief for the case. The scientists are Scott Nixon, Jon Boothroyd, and Frank Goulet.
According to Sea Grant Coastal Extension staff, the case is of national interest because it stands to affect quality-of-life issues in Rhode Island and beyond. "The outcome will either further preserve or start to unravel steps that have been taken during the past 20 years to balance needs for responsible growth with environmental protection," said Virginia Lee, Sea Grant Extension Coastal Management leader and U.S. programs leader for URI Coastal Resources Center. "Rhode Island Sea Grant is a resource for scientific research, and program staff responded immediately upon receiving the request from the Attorney General."
The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has denied Anthony Palazzolo a permit to fill his land for development purposes. Also, the Rhode Island Superior Court denied the landowner's claim that he should be able to challenge land-use regulations enacted before he owned his property or receive compensation for lost development opportunities. To view material regarding Palazzolo's argument, see these web sites:
Pacific Legal Foundation Takes Case to Supreme Court http://www.pacificlegal.org/pr-palo.htm
Petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Anthony Palazzolo http://www.pacificlegal.org/palo.htm