Save Tiverton, a group of local residents and property ownersconcerned about the land use impacts of the proposed Twin River casino, sent a letter to the casino operator on December 8, 2016 seeking a peer review of their environmental applicationto the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).The letter, from Karen Augeri Benson, a local environmental attorney representing neighbors and the group,stated that there were seriousdeficiencies with the initial application according to RIDEM correspondence.

Specifically, RIDEMindicated that the application did not comply with the Freshwater Wetlands Act because it appeared to modify the natural characteristics of the wetlands and alter their natural capabilities. RIDEMalso stated that the project represented a “significant alteration” to the freshwater wetlands and, as a result, mayrequire the review of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These valuablefunctions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands.” As a result, many environmental organizations are dedicated to protecting these sensitive environmental habitats. The site on which Twin River proposes to build consists of 30 acres of wetlands.To date, the company has not responded to the group’s request.

“We hope that Twin River would agree to a peer review as this is a standard practice in the industry,” said Benson. “Moreover,this would ensure a transparent review process and would allow the public to become more informed about the project’s true environmental impacts. We are particularly interested in protecting the Stafford Pond watershed and Sucker Brook. Many Tiverton residents depend on Stafford Pond as a source of drinking water.

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.