Contact: Michele Walker, 919-733-2293, ext. 229
Revised oceanfront setback and static line rules become effective today
RALEIGH — Amendments to the Coastal Resources Commission’s rules governing setbacks for oceanfront structures and static setback lines for communities with large-scale beach nourishment projects will become effective today.
The rules–15A NCAC 7H .0306 General Use Standards for Ocean Hazard Areas– were adopted by the CRC in Sept. 2008, but were subject to legislative review. No bills affecting the rules were acted on during this year’s legislative session, which means the rules become effective at the end of the session.
The setback rule changes increase setback distances for large-scale oceanfront structures. Under the previous rule, single-family structures on the oceanfront, regardless of size, had a setback of 30 times the long-term average annual erosion rate, with a minimum setback of 60 feet landward of the first line of stable and natural vegetation. In addition, multi-family (four units and greater) and commercial buildings greater than 5,000 square feet required a setback of 60 times the long-term average annual erosion rate, with a minimum setback of 120 feet.
The new oceanfront setbacks are based on total square footage regardless of whether the structure is single-family, multi-family or commercial. In the new policy, the minimum setback factor remains 30 times the erosion rate for all structures less than 5,000 square feet, regardless of use. The setback factor for all structures between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet is 60 times the erosion rate and increases incrementally with structure size, reaching a maximum setback at 90 times the erosion rate for structures 100,000 square feet and greater. Additional rule changes will no longer allow cantilevering oceanward of the applicable setback.
The static line rule changes develop separate management strategies for beaches that receive ongoing long-term, large-scale beach nourishment versus those that do not. The static line represents the location of stable, natural vegetation at the time of beach fill construction and, when put in place, is used as the line from which oceanfront setbacks are measured. The rule change would allow limited development on lots that cannot meet the setback from the static vegetation line if a community applies for a static line exception. To qualify for the exception, a community must have a long-term (at least 25 years) beach fill program in place that includes identifying beach compatible sand and a financial plan to build and maintain the project for its design life. Exceptions are granted by the CRC for periods of five years, at which time a community must reapply. If an exception is granted, development under the exception must meet the applicable oceanfront setback from the first line of stable and natural vegetation, buildings can be no further oceanward than the landward-most adjacent building, and total floor area is limited to 2,500 square feet. Additionally, a static line exception establishes a maximum setback for all structures greater than 5,000 square feet at 60 times the erosion rate, similar to the previous setback policy.