NCDCM CAMAgram, 1st and 2nd Quarters 2015
At a recent Coastal Resources Commission meeting, I shared an overview of Division of Coastal Management activities over the past year, including rule changes, updates to our land use planning guidelines, working with the CRC Science Panel, the CRC’s inlet management study, offshore energy, and critical habitat issues, just to name a few. You’ll read more about some of these initiatives below.
But here I want to mention some things that we don’t often highlight – the day-to-day business of DCM, such as our Coastal Area Management Act permitting program. Each year, Division of Coastal Management staff and local permit officers issue thousands of development permits in the 20 coastal counties. In 2014, we issued 863 minor permits and 1,405 general permits, and made decisions on 126 CAMA major permits. While those numbers haven’t rebounded to the high levels we saw in the early-to-mid-2000s, it’s clear that coastal development is on the upswing as we enter the summer season.
Another example is our Beach and Waterfront Access Program, which has awarded more than $45 million in grants for 432 access sites since 1983. In fiscal year 2012-13, the program funded 24 projects, and a fast-track 2014 grant process funded another eight access sites. All of that means that every year we’re adding more locations for the public to access North Carolina’s beaches and waterways. You can read about some recent access projects in our northern district in this issue of theCAMAgram.
We hope that you have a safe and enjoyable summer, and as always, we hope that you will share this newsletter with colleagues and friends, and let us know if you have any suggestions for future newsletters. If you would like to have your name added or removed from the email list, please email your request to Michele.Walker@ncdenr.gov. Additional coastal program information can also be found on our website, http://www.nccoastalmanagement.net.
Braxton Davis, Director, N.C. Division of Coastal Management
In this Issue:
- Draft Sea Level Rise Report Released for Public Comment
- State Approves Consistency Submissions for Offshore Seismic Surveys
- CRC Proposes Use of “Development Line” as Alternative to Static Vegetation Line
- CRC Accepting Public Comments on Repeal of High Hazard Flood AEC
- CAMA Land Use Planning Rule Changes Approved for Public Hearing
- CRC Approves Draft Report for Periodic Review of CAMA Land Use Planning Rules
- Emory Receives Eure-Gardner Award
- DCM Awarded Funding for Pumpout Grant Program
- Spotlight on Public Access – Northern District
- Legislative Update
- Washington District Manager David Moye Retires
- Staff Kudos
- Legal Update
Draft Sea Level Rise Report Released for Public Comment
Comments on the report may be submitted via email to Tancred Miller, DCM’s coastal and ocean policy manager, at Tancred.Miller@ncdenr.gov, through Dec. 31.
Required by Session Law 2012-202, the draft report provides estimated rates of sea level rise along the North Carolina coast during the next 30 years. The report uses data collected at five tide gauges along the North Carolina coast. The gauges are at Duck, Oregon Inlet, Beaufort, Wilmington and Southport. According to the report, historical data shows that sea level is rising across the entire coast of North Carolina. The data also indicate that the rate of rise varies depending on location, with the highest rates occurring on the northern coast, primarily due to greater rates of land subsidence, or sinking, in the Outer Banks. Using the most current research on global sea level rise, the panel used the tide gauge data to project potential future rates of sea level rise at each location.
Following the public comment period, the report will be finalized in early 2016 and delivered to the N.C. General Assembly by March 1, 2016.
State Approves Consistency Submissions for Offshore Seismic Surveys
After careful review of the proposals, the division found both proposed projects to be consistent with the relevant enforceable policies of North Carolina’s coastal management program, with the following conditions and recommendations:
Spectrum Geo, Inc. and GX Technology proposed to conduct separate Marine Geophysical Surveys via 2D seismic surveying off the North Carolina coast to gather geological and geophysical data that could provide information about the feasibility of future development of offshore oil and gas resources. A more thorough description of each of the projects, along with copies of the letters of concurrence sent to each company, is available on thedivision’s website.
The surveys would take place entirely in federal waters outside North Carolina’s coastal zone. State law does not require coastal development permits for projects outside the state’s coastal zone, but the federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires federal applicants to coordinate with the state for any proposed activity that affects land use, water use or any natural resource within the zone.
For more information, contact Daniel Govoni at Daniel.Govoni@ncdenr.gov.
A “development line” would be a line established by a local government that represents the seaward-most allowable location of oceanfront development, provided the development or structure can meet the setback measured from the first line of stable natural vegetation. Under the development line concept, if vegetation has successfully established seaward of its prior location, buildings and accessory structures could conceivably move seaward up to the approved development line as long as minimum setbacks are met. Existing rules require local governments to receive an exception to the “static line” based on a demonstrated commitment to beach nourishment and/or other erosion control alternatives (e.g. terminal groins) in order to allow development seaward of the setback that existed at the time of beach nourishment.
Local governments would need to request approval for a development line from the CRC. Communities could choose to establish a development line, or retain the existing static vegetation line and exception process.
In addition to the development line concept, the proposed rule amendments also amend the commission’s existing static line exception rules. Under current rules, a static vegetation line must be established for any beach fill project of 300,000 cubic yards or more, a five-year waiting period is required before a local government can request an exception to the static line, and structure sizes are limited to 2,500 square feet when constructed seaward of the static line. The proposed rule amendments would eliminate the five-year waiting period and the limitation on structure size.
For more information, please contact Ken Richardson at Ken.Richardson@ncdenr.gov.
CRC Accepting Public Comments on Repeal of High Hazard Flood AEC
The High Hazard Flood AEC [15A NCAC 7H .0304(2)] covers lands subject to flooding, high waves, and heavy water currents during a major storm. These are the lands identified as coastal flood with velocity hazard, or "V zones," on flood insurance rate maps prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The High Hazard Flood AEC often overlaps with the Ocean Erodible and Inlet Hazard AECs.
Single-family residences located in the High Hazard Flood AEC are currently exempt from CAMA permitting requirements, provided that they are not within the Ocean Erodible or Inlet Hazard AECs, are constructed on pilings, and comply with the N.C. Building Code and local flood damage prevention ordinances as required by the National Flood Insurance Program. Although this type of development does not require a CAMA permit, it requires a site visit by a DCM field representative or CAMA Local Permit Officer in addition to an application for a permit exemption and a fee of $50.
The division is proposing to repeal the High Hazard Flood AEC because the current rules of the Coastal Resources Commission parallel the N.C. building code and national and local flood prevention standards, making the CRC standards no longer necessary.
For more information, please contact Mike Lopazanski at Mike.Lopazanski@ncdenr.gov.
CAMA Land Use Planning Rule Changes Approved for Public Hearing
These amendments include changes to streamline the land use plan amendment and update process, reduce the amount of analysis required, and shorter timelines for state review and certification of land-use plans and updates. The changes are expected to significantly reduce the regulatory burden on local governments, while maintaining coastal management standards for local planning activities.
The rule amendments were recently approved by the CRC, and will be sent to public hearing with a proposed effective date of Feb. 1, 2016.
CRC Approves Draft Report for Periodic Review of CAMA Land Use Planning Rules
N.C. Gen. Stat. §150B-21.3A, adopted in 2013, requires state agencies to review existing rules every 10 years. The division’s rules will be reviewed on a schedule established by the RRC. As rules become available for public comment, they will be available for review on the DENR website.
The first of the division’s rules to be reviewed are the CAMA land use planning rules. The remaining rules will be reviewed in 2017.
The division is required to evaluate each of the existing rules and make an initial determination from one of these three classifications:
After division review of 15A NCAC 7B, along with a public comment period, four rules were designated asNecessary with substantive public interest. One rule was designated asNecessary without substantive public interestand two rules were designated asUnnecessary.
The RRC will review the final report and public comments to determine if it agrees with the agency classification of its rules. The RRC may change a classification of a rule to “Necessary with substantive public interest” but does not have the authority to declare a rule as “Unnecessary.” The RRC will send a final report to the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee (APOC) for consultation. The final determination on an agency’s rules becomes effective when the APOC reviews the report or on the 61st day after receiving the report from the RRC if the APOC does not meet. The APOC may disagree with the commission’s determination and recommend to the General Assembly that the agency conduct a review of the rule the following year.
Rules designated as “Necessary without substantive public interest” will remain in the N.C. Administrative Code and rules designated as “Unnecessary” will be removed. Rules designated as “Necessary with substantive public interest” must be readopted following the usual rulemaking procedures.
For more information, please contact Mike Lopazanski at Mike.Lopazanski@ncdenr.gov.
Current CRC Chairman Frank Gorham presented the award to Emory.
The Eure-Gardner award is bestowed on those individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to protecting the natural, cultural and economic resources of the coastal area. It is named for Thomas Eure, the first chairman of the CRC, and William Gardner, a long-time member and former chairman of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council.
Emory is the environmental manager at the Southern Timberlands Operations of Weyerhauser Co., where he has worked since 1972. He served on the Coastal Resources Commission for 20 years, from June 1994 through June 2014. He was appointed chairman of the CRC in November 2007 by then-Governor Mike Easley.
“Throughout the course of his time with the CRC, Bob was known for his fairness, his calm demeanor, and his willingness to hear all sides of each of the complex issues brought before the commission,” said Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. “For all of his efforts, his approach, and his leadership, he is truly deserving of the Eure-Gardner Award.”
Photo: CRC chair Frank Gorham, Lindy Emory, Bob Emory.
The Clean Vessel Act provides grant funds for the construction, replacement, renovation and maintenance of facilities that assist recreational boaters in properly disposing of on-board septic waste. The program also provides information and education about the benefits of pumpout systems.
For more information, please contact Pat Durrett at Pat.Durrett@ncdenr.gov.
Spotlight on Public Access – Northern District
DCM’s northern district is an 11-county area that includes the ocean beach and inland shorelines of Currituck and Dare counties as well as the inland shorelines of Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan, Gates, Hertford, Bertie, Washington and Tyrrell counties. Below is a review of projects that have recently received a grant award in the northern district:
Dare County. The county is constructing a regional beach access and oceanfront park on a 6.67-acre site in the village of Rodanthe. The program is providing $130,000 in matching funds toward a restroom and picnic pavilion. PARTF is also contributing funds. Approximately $53,000 has been awarded to the Town of Kitty Hawk to expand beach access parking along Lillian Street and approximately $14,000 has been awarded to the Town of Nags Head to install a kayak launch at the Causeway Estuarine access site.
Currituck County. The county has completed construction of a bathhouse at the Corolla Village Road beach access across from the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in historic Corolla Village. The program provided $130,000 in matching funds for the project.
Camden County. The county will soon begin construction of a park that includes shoreline, boating and restroom facilities on a 2.34-acre site along the Pasquotank River in southern Camden County. PARTF and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are also contributing funds. The program has awarded approximately $140,000 in matching funds toward improvements.
Pasquotank County. Elizabeth City has acquired a 0.66-acre downtown waterfront property on the Pasquotank River and Charles Creek and has begun demolition of dilapidated structures on the property. The program has awarded approximately $328,000 in combined matching funds toward acquisition and improvements.
Perquimans County. The Town of Hertford has completed construction of a downtown pier/dock with boat slips on the Perquimans River behind the police station. The program has awarded approximately $31,000 toward the improvements. The Boating Infrastructure Grant Program administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries is also contributing funds.
Chowan County. The county is constructing handicapped accessible shoreline, canoe/kayak, and site improvements at the 5.43-acre Pembroke Creek Park. The program has awarded approximately $150,000 toward the improvements.
Hertford County. The Town of Murfreesboro has been awarded approximately $39,000 in matching funds to install a replacement boardwalk/pier behind River Street Park and $76,500 in matching funds toward shoreline and site improvements on a 2.41-acre site located at the end of Hart Street, on the Meherrin River The Wildlife Resources Commission, or WRC, is also contributing funds toward improvements at the Hart Street site. Approximately $77,000 has been awarded to the Town of Ahoskie to install a restroom facility at the Ahoskie Creek Recreational Complex.
Bertie County. The Town of Windsor has completed construction of a pier and canoe/kayak launch with parking on the Cashie River at Hoggard Mill Road. The program provided approximately $149,000 in matching funds toward the improvements. The Town of Windsor has been awarded $112,500 in combined matching funds to install a canoe/kayak launch and restroom and shower facility at the terminus of Elm Street off the Cashie River. WRC is also contributing funds toward improvements at the Elm Street site, which includes a town-owned campground and WRC boat ramp.
Washington County. The Town of Plymouth has completed construction of a downtown pier/dock behind the Town Hall on the Roanoke River. The program has awarded approximately $33,000 in matching funds toward the project.
Tyrrell County. The county has been awarded $85,500 in matching funds to provide shoreline and site improvements at the 1.3-acre Veterans’ Park on the Scuppernong River across from the Town of Columbia. The town will soon complete installation of a canoe/kayak launch and access ramp off the public boardwalk on the Scuppernong River at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The program has awarded approximately $60,000 in matching funds toward the project.
For more information on these projects please contact Charlan Owens, AICP, district planner in the Elizabeth City District Office.
Bills of interest in the current session of the General Assembly:
S453 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2015
H141 – Stormwater/Flood Control
H345 – Currituck Co/Remove Abandoned Vessels
H346 – Counties/Public Trust Areas
H388 - Dare Co Local Option Sales Tax
H591 – Cities/Public Trust Areas
Washington District Manager David Moye Retires
David was honored at the December 2014 CRC meeting with a certificate in recognition of his service to the State of North Carolina and his dedication to preserving the North Carolina coast.
DCM and the CRC will continue to benefit from David’s knowledge and experience as he was recently appointed to serve on the Coastal Resources Advisory Council.
“I appreciate so much that you have addressed my concerns [and those of others who have communicated with me]. I feel so much better knowing that you are guarding the dunes …. Thank you for all that you do.”
Another satisfied customer sent the following email to Wilmington Office field representative Robb Mairs, Major Permits Coordinator Doug Huggett, and Assistant Major Permits Coordinator Jonathan Howell:
“I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your help on this incredibly difficult project for me. I have never done a marina before and assumed the process would take me two years just to get it permitted – instead it took about six months! Your outfit has been great to work with…I don't believe I've ever worked with a government agency that has been so accommodating, efficient, and friendly... Thank you again for your assistance and professionalism.”
Major Permits Coordinator Doug Huggett also received the following letter from the mayor of Kitty Hawk following a recent storm event:
“On behalf of the Kitty Hawk Town Council and the citizens of Kitty Hawk, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NC Division of Coastal Management for your immediate response to allow NCDOT to repair NC12 as a result of the recent Nor’easter … We know that this will not be the last storm to cause damage to NC12 and your continued support of NCDOT and the Town of Kitty Hawk is certainly appreciated.”
Coastal Training Program Coordinator Whitney Jenkins received these comments following a recent workshop for area realtors:
“Thank you! That was an incredible workshop and so full of information. I’m going to have the Brunswick County Board of Realtors look into having that workshop here ... Thanks so much!”
DCM is always proud of our staff’s commitment to providing all of our customers with the best in customer service.
Legal Update of Active Cases
In the North Carolina Supreme Court:
The Riggings HOA v. CRC(New Hanover 09 CVS 2761) – The state appealed the Court of Appeals’ Order to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The COA ultimately held that the CRC should have granted the fifth variance request by the Riggings to allow sandbags to remain indefinitely at the site, subject to reasonable conditions. The court heard oral arguments on Oct. 6, 2014, and the court decided the case in December of 2014. The justices voted 3-3 (with Justice Hunter recusing himself as the author of the COA’s decision below), and so the COA’s decision stands but holds no precedential value. The case has now been remanded back to the Riggings and DCM staff for a variance rehearing before the CRC, scheduled for the commission’s September 2015 meeting.
Cases in the Office of Administrative Hearings:
Defenders of Wildlife & NWRA v. DCM and NCDOT (13 EHR 16087) – Appeal by Petitioners of DCM’s issuance of the CAMA permit authorizing the Bonner Bridge replacement bridge. The parties have completed the discovery phase of this case and are having continued discussions regarding settlement with the assistance of a mediator.