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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - Summer07

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Summer 2007

Jim Gregson succeeds Charles Jones as director of DCM

James H. Gregson, formerly manager of the division’s Wilmington district office, became the director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management on June 1. Jim replaces Charles Jones, who retired May 31.

“Jim’s knowledge of coastal issues is just one asset he will bring as director of Coastal Management,” said Secretary Bill Ross of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. "His managerial skills and his ability to work on complicated issues with local governments and stakeholders in a thoughtful manner make him an excellent choice to lead the division.”

Jim has worked at DENR for nearly 20 years. Since 2002, he has managed permitting and enforcement activities for the Division of Coastal Management's Wilmington office. From 1997 to 2002, he was a field representative in DCM's Wilmington office. Prior to working with Coastal Management, Jim worked as an environmental specialist for the Division of Water Quality at the Wilmington regional office, reviewing CAMA permit applications, inspecting agricultural operations and acting as an investigator during emergency response episodes.

“I’m finding it very different to be involved in all aspects of Coastal Management’s work, rather than just focusing on permitting,” Jim said. “It’s a challenging job, but I’m fortunate to work with an excellent staff, who have made the transition much easier.”

A native of Virginia, Jim received a bachelor’s degree in biology and premed from the College of William and Mary in Willliamsburg, Va. He and his wife, Cindy, live in Wilmington with their 3-year-old daughter, Juliana.
 

Jones Receives Eure-Gardner Award for Significant Contributions to Protection of the N.C. Coast

The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission recently bestowed its highest honor, the Eure-Gardner award, on outgoing Division of Coastal Management Director Charles Jones at the CRC’s May meeting in Greenville. CRC Chairman Courtney Hackney presented the award on behalf of the Commission.

Jones served as the director of DCM from March 2004 until his retirement on May 31. He joined the division in 1978 as a field consultant and was promoted to chief of the DCM field services section in 1984. In 1986, Jones became the district manager for the division’s Morehead City office, where he served until 1997 when he was promoted to assistant director for permitting and enforcement.

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.
 

Waterfront access legislation passed

The N.C. General Assembly passed legislation responding to the recommendations presented by the N.C. Waterfront Access Study Committee. Senate Bill 646 calls for:  

· Present-use value tax status extended to working waterfronts, as defined in the bill.

· Division of Marine Fisheries representative added to state present-use value advisory committee.

· Increase in boater registration fee, which should help to support/finance Wildlife Resources Commission boating access program.

· Access advisory committee to be established within DENR.

· Department of Transportation directed to expand public access to coastal waters in it road project planning and construction programs.

· Division of Emergency Management directed to study ways to facilitate construction and repair of water-dependent structures in regulated flood zones.

· Waive fees for special emergency Coastal Area Management Act building permits when life or structural property is in imminent danger as a result of a storm.

In addition, the state budget includes provisions for a maximum of $20 million to be used to acquire waterfront properties or develop facilities to provide public and commercial waterfront access and improve and develop the same. The Division of Marine Fisheries will administer the fund.

CRC will hear public comments on setback rule changes in November

At its July meeting, the Coastal Resources Commission approved for public hearing amendments to 15A NCAC 7H .0306, General Use Standards for Ocean Hazard Areas, which will tie oceanfront building setbacks to the size of the structure and not the use.

The original CAMA construction setback rules were established in 1979. At that time, North Carolina had experienced only three hurricanes in the previous 20 years and oceanfront development was primarily confined to smaller, single-family structures. With the exception of Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, beach fill projects were not common. Since 1979, development has become denser, the population of oceanfront counties has nearly doubled, 12 hurricanes have affected the state (eight in the past decade), and beach fill projects have become a more frequent response to the erosion problems that many beach communities face.

Under current rules, single-family structures on the oceanfront, regardless of size, have a setback of 30 times the long-term average annual erosion rate with a minimum setback of 60 feet. Setbacks are measured from the first line of stable, natural vegetation.

The proposed oceanfront setbacks are based on total square footage regardless of whether the structure is single-family, multi-family or commercial. In the proposed policy, the minimum setback factor remains 30 times the erosion rate for all structures less than 5,000 square feet, regardless of use.  The proposed changes would allow the setback factor to increase incrementally with structure size, with the maximum setback at 90 times the erosion rate for structures of 100,000 square feet or larger.

In other words, the larger the structure, the larger the setback.

Under the proposed changes, the setback factors for larger structures (greater than 5,000 square feet) are not reduced for areas with higher shoreline erosion rates. Current rules require commercial and multi-family structures greater than 5,000 square feet to be set back 60 times the erosion rate until the rate reaches 3.5 feet per year, at which point the setback becomes 30 times the erosion rate plus 105 feet.  

Development such as roads and parking lots continue to have the same setback factors as stated in current policy(i.e., setback factor of 30 if the total area is less than 5,000 square feet and setback factor of 60 if the total area is 5,000 square feet or greater). Other public infrastructure such as utilities, which are linear in nature, would have a maximum setback of 30 times the erosion rate.  

Finally, no cantilevers would be allowed into the oceanfront setback under the proposed revisions. Existing DCM policy has been to allow cantilevering into the setback. Historically, cantilevered structures have extended less than a few feet into the oceanfront setback and have not been a safety hazard. However, recent development trends have increased the oceanward reach of structures that “hang over” the setback line, sometimes up to nearly 30 feet over. The proposed policy eliminates cantilevering into the setback.

The commission will hear public comments on the proposed changes to setback rules at its November 29-30 meeting in Greenville. The proposed rule text is available for review on DCM’s Web site.

Static line rule changes approved for public comment

At its July meeting, the Coastal Resources Commission approved for public hearing amendments to the CRC’s rules on static vegetation lines for nourished beaches. 

The vegetation line is used in applying setbacks for oceanfront development. Normally, permit officers mark the line twice: when a property owner applies for a CAMA permit to build and then just before construction begins. But when a community is about to start a large-scale beach nourishment project, DCM staff must determine a static vegetation line (that would be used for all future setback determinations) before sand is pumped onto the beach. This is done to protect public use of the beach and in recognition of nourishment’s limited lifespan.

In some cases, setting this line means that lots made unable to be built upon by hurricanes could remain that way forever, despite the nourishment’s expansion of the beach.

Recognizing the potential hardships this situation can cause, DCM staff has developed some amendments that would allow communities to petition for exemptions for limited redevelopment in areas where a static line exists. Redevelopment would have to meet the following restrictions:

  • Communities would be required to show they have adequate financial and sand resources to continue nourishment for 30 years.
  • Development will not be allowed oceanward of adjacent structures of similar use.
  • Total square footage of the building will be limited to 2,000 square feet.
  • Development shall not be eligible for the single-family exemptions defined in .0309(b)(4)
  • With the exception of wooden elevated decks and walkways and parking areas, development would not be permitted oceanward of the static line.
  • Development must be located as far landward as feasible.

Coastal towns would have to wait five years after an initial nourishment project before petitioning for any exemptions.

The Commission will hear public comments on the proposed rule changes at its November 29-30 meeting in Greenville. The proposed rule text is available for review on DCM’s website.
 

CRC 2008 meeting schedule

The Coastal Resources Commission will meet six times next year, on the following dates (venues are subject to change):

January 16-18

New Bern

March 26-28

Kill Devil Hills

May 21-23

Washington

July 23-25

Greenville

Sept. 24-26

Sunset Beach

Nov. 19-21

Morehead City


N.C. receives competitive CELCP grant for 2007

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently awarded North Carolina a competitive Coastal & Estuarine Land Conservation Program grant for fiscal year 2007. The grant provides $400,000 to purchase 935 acres of forested wetlands on the Albemarle Sound, adjacent to the Palmetto Peartree Preserve in Tyrrell County. Tyrrell County will hold the title, and The Conservation Fund will hold a conservation easement and manage the property for public use and recreation. The grantees are expecting a matching grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

NOAA has also recommended that Congress award the state $3 million under the Coastal & Estuarine Land Conservation Program for the conservation purchase of approximately 930 acres in Gates County.  If approved, it will be the second CELCP project funded in the state. Local governments and certain state agencies are eligible to apply for CELCP grants. Interested parties should monitor the Division of Coastal Management’s Web site for the fiscal year 2009 funding notice.
 

DCM’s new compliance coordinators begin work this summer

Both the governor and the General Assembly recognized the need for increased CAMA enforcement while drafting last year’s state budget, and provided DCM with the funds to create four compliance coordinator positions. Each district office has one compliance coordinator.

“These new positions will improve the division’s focus on compliance and enforcement of CAMA rules by having staff that are dedicated to these activities,” said DCM’s compliance coordinator Roy Brownlow. “This should help to prevent violations from occurring since staff will be able to provide oversight of projects as they are being constructed.”

Coordinators will also be able to assist with activities designed to educate the public about compliance with CAMA regulations, including workshops for real estate agents and contractors. In addition, these new positions will allow DCM field representatives to focus on the ever-increasing permitting demands, resulting in a considerable savings to the regulated community and better customer service.

The four Compliance and Enforcement Representatives began their new positions in recent weeks. They are: Tara Anne MacPherson-Croft in Wilmington; Lynn Mathis in Elizabeth City; Kim Hedrick in Washington; and Ryan Davenport in Morehead City.

News Briefs

National working waterfronts bill in the works
A working waterfronts bill has been introduced on Capitol Hill. The bill proposes to amend the Coastal Zone Management Act to create a working waterfronts grant program. States would have to prepare "Working Waterfront Plans" to be eligible to receive grants. The proposed authorization levels are $25 million for 2008, $50 million for 2009, and $75 million for 2010. The proposed local match is 25 percent. 

Clean Beaches Week
The Clean Beaches Council sponsored National Clean Beaches Week from June 29 – July 5. North Carolina is one of several states to issue proclamations honoring Clean Beaches Week this year.

Dr. Beach names best beaches
A North Carolina beach is once again counted among the nation’s best. Ocracoke Island ranked first on the annual list of “America’s Best Beaches.” The list is compiled by coastal researcherDr. Stephen Leatherman, also known as“Dr. Beach” Leatherman, a professor at Florida International University, ranks the nation’s 650 beaches using 50 criteria.
 

Staff news

We have had several additions to our staff over the past few months:

Robin Beveridge is our new major permits file clerk in Morehead City. She comes to us from a similar position with Carteret County.   

Jill Fegley is our new Reserve Education Coordinator in the Beaufort office. Jill has a doctorate in ecology and environmental science from the University of Maine and has extensive experience in communicating science-based information to K-12 students and teachers, undergraduates and the public.

Arthur Stadiem has joined DCM as our new budget officer. Arthur has an extensive fiscal background in both private business and public service, and has been with the Department of Revenue for the last 8 years.

Donna Parrott has joined the division as our new personnel technician. She has an extensive background in human resources administration and had previously served as the human resources manager for a company in the Kinston area.

As previously noted, our four new compliance officers started work this summer::Tara Anne MacPherson-Croft in Wilmington;Lynn Mathis in Elizabeth City;Kim Hedrick in Washington; andRyan Davenport in Morehead City.

We also have several new field representatives:

Jim Hoadley is our new DOT field representative in Elizabeth City.  For the last several years he has worked as a consultant in the Northeast. 

Holley Snider is a new field representative in Elizabeth City. Holley is from the Tidewater area of Virginia and has been working for the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Heather Styron will join the Morehead City office Aug. 1 as a new field representative. Heather comes to DCM with seven years of experience as a registered sanitarian with the Carteret County Health Department.

And a couple of folks leaving us:

Anthony Snider, manager of the southern coastal reserve sites, will be leaving the Coastal Reserve this fall to take a position at UNC-Wilmington.

July marks the last month ofPatrick Limber's NOAA Coastal Services Center fellowship.   During his two-year tenure, Patrick's primary efforts have focused on shoreline datum analysis for the North Carolina coast.  Using a 2004 aerial photo and LiDAR dataset, Patrick has developed a better understanding of the similarities and differences between photo-derived wet/dry shorelines and LiDAR-derived mean high water shorelines.   The dataset used in Patrick's research makes his study the largest of its kind.   Results have been presented to the CRC Science Panel as well as at international meetings, and an academic manuscript is in preparation. Patrick has also been integral in development of the sediment criteria, the re-delineation of inlet hazard areas and the analysis of oceanfront setback statistics.  The entire DCM staff wishes Patrick well as he begins work on his doctorate in earth and ocean sciences at Duke University next month.   

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