NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Plans to redevelop the property housing the former Lighthouse Inn have been brought to a screeching halt.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said Friday that a hazardous materials assessment needs to be conducted before the state-owned land is leveled and repurposed.

“This assessment will determine the presence and extent of hazardous materials, including potentially asbestos, which would need to be addressed for either demolition or redevelopment of the building and/or site,” DEM Director Terry Gray said.

Gray said, once the DEM retains a firm to conduct the assessment, it should take approximately 90 days to complete.

“Consideration of any changes to the leases at the site will be suspended until this assessment is completed and an accurate estimate of the cost of remediation is available,” he added.

The property is located across from the Block Island Ferry terminal and a short distance from Salty Brine Beach in the Port of Galilee. It consists of three lots; two are being used for parking, while the third houses the vacant hotel.

The DEM hopes to repurpose the land in a way that will complement the state’s bustling commercial fishing industry.

DEM spokesperson Mike Healey previously described Galilee as “the engine of Rhode Island’s commercial fisheries and seafood sector,” since it accounts for more than $420 million in state revenue and 4,300 jobs.

Narragansett Councilwoman Ewa Dzwierzynski has since released the following statement:

“The town recently sent a letter to State officials outlining the salient points of Exeter v Rhode Island which affirms that the State is not immune to local zoning laws.”

“I’m dismayed to learn RIDEM wants to “Turn the volume down” with regard to their botched redevelopment of an important 5-acre parcel in the Port of Galilee. I can see why Governor McKee would want to tamp down the protests and outrage coming from the town — it’s election season, and most polls have him trailing rising star Nellie Gorbea.”

“The public is now becoming aware that the State of Rhode Island has been ignoring local land use ordinances and has never obtained the required special use permits necessary to operate a parking facility. The State has incorrectly asserted that it is immune to local zoning. Case law suggests otherwise as illustrated in a ruling in Exeter vs. Rhode Island.”

“I have no intention of turning the volume down. Moving forward, we intend to enforce local land use ordinances and hold the State accountable. To date, no special use permits have ever been requested for use as a parking lot, nor has anything ever come before local planning and zoning for the Lighthouse Inn site as required in the Galilee Special District ordinance.”

“The lease extension expired at the end of February and has yet to go before the State Properties Committee to address the proposed changes to the lease as required.”

“I am also shocked the State intends to pick up the cost to demolish the privately-owned Lighthouse Inn building which was intentionally abandoned by its owner in breach of its lease agreement in hopes of clearing it for more parking. I suspect it could easily cost more than $500K to abate the hazardous material and clear the site. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for this.”

“Based on the timing, this seems to be a stall tactic during political season, and I call on everyone to amplify our concerns.”