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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - Appendix A: Permitting Information for Piers

Coastal Management

Appendix A: Pier Requirements

Building Piers Authorized by General Permit

A general permit is an expedited form of major permit. General permits are issued for several types of projects that cause little environmental damage. Coastal Management staff can issue general permits in the field, often on the same day as a site visit. The general permit fee for piers is $200.

How do I qualify for a general permit?

  • Pier is for residential use only.

  • Pier cannot provide docking space for more than two boats.

  • Want to dock more boats? Apply for a major permit.

How long can my pier be?

  • Up to 400 feet, provided pier meets certain conditions. (For pier to be longer than 200 feet, the additional length must give access to deeper water at a rate of at least one foot of water depth per 100 feet of pier.)

  • Cannot extend more than 1/4 the width of the water body.

Are there exceptions?

  • Could extend more than 1/4 width of water body, if piers within 200 feet of your property are longer, but can't be longer than established pier-head line and cannot extend more than 1/3 width of water body.

  • Want a longer pier? Apply for a major permit.

How wide can the pier be?

  • Six feet maximum.

What are the size restrictions on T-heads, finger piers, platforms and decks?

  • For lots with shorelines at least 100 feet long, combined area cannot be more than 400 square feet.

  • For shorter shorelines, combined total area cannot be more than 4 square feet per linear foot of shoreline.

What about boathouses and platforms?

  • Boathouses and platforms cannot be bigger than 400 square feet.

  • Boathouses not allowed on lots with less than 75 linear feet of shoreline.

  • Sides can cover only the top half of the boathouse. Boathouses, decks and platforms must be single-story.

  • May roof boathouses, decks and platforms, but no second-story use allowed.

What about boat lifts?

  • Areas enclosed by boat lifts cannot be bigger than 400 square feet.

How close can I build to my neighbor's property?

  • 15 feet from adjacent property owner's riparian corridor, unless waiver obtained from adjacent property owners.

Building Piers Authorized by Major Permit

When do I have to apply for major permit?

  • If pier will be longer than 400 feet.

  • If pier would provide docking space for more than two boats.

How long can my pier be?

No set limit, but:

  • For pier to be longer than 400 feet, the additional length must give access to deeper water at a rate of at least one foot of water depth per 100 feet of pier;

  • Cannot extend beyond established pier length on same shoreline;

  • Cannot extend into channel;

  • Cannot extend more than 1/4 width of the water body.

Are there exceptions?

  • Could extend more than 1/4 width of water body, if piers within 200 feet of your property are longer, but can't be longer than established pier-head line and cannot extend more than 1/3 width of water body.

  • 1/4 limit does not apply in areas where Army Corps of Engineers has established an official pier-head line.

How wide can the pier be?

  • Six feet.

  • Sometimes can be wider, only if the greater width is necessary for safer use, improved public access, or to support a water-dependent use that could not occur otherwise.

What are the size restrictions on T-heads, finger piers, platforms and decks?

  • Combined total area cannot be more than 8 square feet per linear foot of shoreline, with a maximum of 2,000 sq. ft.

  • Larger total area could be approved only if area is necessary for safer use or to support a water-dependent use that could not occur otherwise.

What about boathouses?

  • Boathouses cannot be bigger than 400 square feet, except to accommodate a demonstrated need for a larger boathouse.

  • Boathouses not allowed on lots with less than 75 linear feet of shoreline.

  • Boathouse sides can cover only the top half of the boathouse.

  • Boathouses, decks and platforms must be single story.

  • Boathouses, decks and platforms may have roofs, but cannot allow second-story use.

What about boat lifts?

  • Areas enclosed by boat lifts cannot be bigger than 400 square feet, except to accommodate a demonstrated need for a larger boat lift.

How close can I build to my neighbor's property?

  • 15 feet from adjacent adjacent property owner's riparian corridor, unless written waiver obtained from adjacent property owner.

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