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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Coastal Management - Winter 08

Coastal Management

CAMAgram - Winter 2008

CRC approves docks and piers rules for public hearing

In response to a declaratory ruling request regarding the siting of floating/drive-on docks, the Coastal Resources Commission last year began a study and revision of its administrative rules governing docks and piers. While the declaratory ruling was denied, the CRC addressed other current issues including water depth, location and size of structures.  The amendments proposed by the CRC consider dock and pier development from a maximum footprint standpoint, or shading issue. 

In order to give property owners flexibility, the commission has proposed a maximum square footage of shaded impact at eight square feet per linear foot of shoreline with a maximum allocation of 800 square feet authorized under the general permit. The maximum square footage of any individual component of the dock facility is not to exceed 400 square feet.  The commission also differentiates between the docking structure (where a vessel may be tied up) and the pier structure (which is used as access to the docking structure). In allocating shaded impacts, the pier is not included in the calculation. The rule amendments also require that docking facilities not be constructed in primary nursery areas, where the water depth is less than two feet, and that floating docking facilities will not be allowed where the normal low water level is less than 18 inches. In order the address the ever-increasing number of docks and piers, the commission has amended its rules to encourage shared piers providing incentives for two property owners to share a common pier. Shared piers or docking facilities shall be allowed and encouraged provided that:

  • In addition to complying with the previously described amendments, the shared pier or docking facility shall be confined to two adjacent riparian property owners and the landward point of origination of the structure shall be bisected by the shared property line.
  • Shared piers and docking facilities shall be designed to provide docking space for no more than four boats.
  • The total square footage of shaded impact for docks and mooring facilities shall be  calculated as stated above allowing for the combined shoreline of both properties.

The overall incentives for a shared pier are the ability to receive an expedited general permit that combines shorelines for total platform construction, allowance for an increase to a total of four slips and reduction in the cost to each property owner by splitting the permit fee and the construction cost. The public also benefits from this approach by a reduction of shading by having only one access instead of two and a potential for reduced platform construction from the combined properties.

The CRC voted at its November 2007 meeting to send the rule amendment to public hearing. It is expected that a public hearing will be held in at the next CRC meeting on March 20-21 in Kill Devil Hills, with an anticipated effective date of May 1, 2008.

Setback and static line rules amended, sent back to public hearing

At its January meeting, the Coastal Resources Commission voted to send revised rules governing oceanfront-building setbacks back to public hearing, citing changes made to the proposed rules since the last public hearing in November.

The changes include removing covered porches from the calculation of a structure’s total square footage, and increasing to 2,500 square feet the square footage limitation for construction in areas that receive a static line exemption. The changes also propose treating roads as infrastructure, which would subject them to a maximum setback factor of 30 times the erosion rate, rather than the more restrictive setback factor of 60 times the erosion rate.

The division plans to hold additional informational meetings about the rule changes, combined with public hearings, in at least four different coastal communities. A fifth public hearing would most likely take place at the CRC’s regular meeting in July, scheduled for July 24-25 in Raleigh.

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.

CAMA civil penalties increased effective Feb. 1

Beginning Feb. 1, violations of the Coastal Area Management Act will carry stiffer penalties, up to a maximum of $10,000 for the most serious violations. This is the first increase in CAMA penalties since 1983.

In November 2007, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission voted to adopt a rule change to allow the Division of Coastal Management to increase the maximum amount it can assess for civil penalties for CAMA violations. The rule change follows 2006 legislation authorizing the increase.

Previously, the division could assess fines up to $250 for minor development violations and up to $2,500 for major development violations. The rule change increases the maximum penalties to $1,000 for minor permit violations and $10,000 for major permit violations. It also allows DCM to weigh how much money the violator saved by noncompliance as a factor in determining the amount of the fine, and gives the division authority to recoup some of the investigative costs associated with violations.

Two new Clean Marinas certified

Radio Island Marina Club of Beaufort and Bayliss Boatworks, Inc. of Wanchese are the latest facilities to be certified as a North Carolina Clean Marina. To earn the certification, the marina’s owners implemented Clean Marina practices including preparation of spill prevention plans, safety and emergency planning and strongly limiting boat maintenance activities.

Clean Marina is a voluntary program designed to recognize marina operators for their efforts toward environmental stewardship. Marina operators who choose to participate must complete an evaluation form about their use of specific best management practices. 

If a marina meets criteria developed by N.C. Boating Industry Services and the Division of Coastal Management, it will be designated as a Clean Marina. Such marinas are eligible to fly the Clean Marina flag and use the logo in their advertising. The flags signal to boaters that a marina cares about the cleanliness of area waterways. There are currently 15 certified Clean Marinas in coastal North Carolina.

Coastal Training Program to hold workshops on grant writing, community planning

The N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve’s Coastal Training Program will conduct two workshops during the next few months to help coastal community leaders learn more about grant writing and coastal planning and development. Both workshops will be held at the NOAA/NCNERR Auditorium on Pivers Island in Beaufort.

Funding Environmental Improvements in Your Community: Funding Agencies & Grantwriting Basics will be held March 4-5. This two-day workshop will introduce participants to various funding agencies that provide assistance to local communities to make environmental improvements that control stormwater runoff, improve local water quality and restore watersheds. Participants also will learn what these agencies look for in a grant application and how to find other sources of funding. Day two will be devoted to refining participants’ grant writing skills.

The fee for this workshop is $20 and includes lunch on both days. Please make checks payable to “Division of Coastal Management.” Register early, space is limited.Registrations must be received by Tuesday, February 26.To register, contact Whitney Jenkins (, (252) 838-0882.

The Coastal Community Planning & Development TrainingWorkshop will be held April 15-16.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and state coastal resource management agencies have developed this introductory, two-day course that will actively engage participants in learning about alternatives to how and where growth will occur in their communities. It aims to provide them with the background, examples and strategies to support alternative development efforts in coastal communities.

The fee for this workshop is $20 and includes lunch both days. Please make checks payable to “Division of Coastal Management.” Register early because space is limited.Registrations must be received by Tuesday, April 8. To register, contact Whitney Jenkins at or (252) 838-0882.

Coastal reserve accomplishments 2007

The North Carolina Coastal Reserve saw the following accomplishments in 2007:

The thirteenth year of the NCNERR’s System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) was successfully implemented at the Masonboro and Zeke’s Islands components. SWMP is part of a national program to provide baseline data for water quality, chlorophyll a, nutrients, and weather for 27 estuaries across the country. Data are available real-time for the Research Creek site at Masonboro Island as part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System’s contribution to the Integrated Ocean Observing System (

Water quality monitoring was reinstated at the Rachel Carson NCNERR component after a five-year hiatus.  This work is conducted in partnership with the National Park Service.

Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) was mapped at the Rachel Carson component to support the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.  The Masonboro NCNERR component was surveyed for SAV but none was found.

Upland and emergent habitat mapping was completed at the 4 NCNERR components.  This dataset will be used to support and promote research and education activities on the components as well as monitor sensitive and invasive species, assess habitat change over time, and inform land conservation strategies.

Sea turtle monitoring was continued at the Masonboro Island NCNERR component this summer.  This work was conducted by UNCW; 22 nests and 11 false crawls were observed.

A tide gate was installed at the Buckridge Coastal Reserve with funding from the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program to restore hydrologic function and prevent salt water intrusion. 

A Visitor Use Study was conducted at the Currituck Banks, Rachel Carson, and Masonboro Island NCNERR components, and Bird Island Coastal Reserve in conjunction with researchers from UNCW. The results will yield a better understanding of how the components are used and the visitors’ level of understanding about the Reserve, informing signage and education programs and forming a baseline for tracking the effectiveness of policies.

The “green” boardwalk was completed at the Rachel Carson NCNERR component to provide directed access to its unique habitats.  Composite decking and railing were used in place of traditional treated lumber.  The boardwalk is a joint project with the Town of Beaufort and was funded through a grant from the Division of Coastal Management’s Public Beach and Waterfront Access to the Town and a private donation. 

Trail improvements were completed at Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve; interpretive signs and benches were installed and a new trail was created to complete a loop trail system.  A new trail was completed at the Bald Head Woods Coastal Reserve with assistance from UNCW.

Education staff held twelve teacher professional development workshops and training opportunities in 2007.  Two hundred and five teachers from across the State learned about coastal processes, estuarine habitats, and the educational resources available to support classroom-based estuarine education.  Workshop partners included NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Bald Head Island Conservancy, Southeast Center for Ocean Sciences and Education Excellence, Mid-Atlantic Marine Educators Association, Carteret County Schools, and the Environmental Education Institute. 

One thousand eighty two students visited the Rachel Carson NCNERR component on school sponsored field trips.  EstuaryLive had approximately 1450 participants from 27 different schools.  Community outreach programs were held for 381 individuals from a variety of organizations.

The volunteer-led summer walking and boat field trips at the Rachel Carson NCNERR component drew 236 members of the general public.  A summer student intern at the Currituck Banks NCNERR component led nature hikes for 204 members of the general public.

Nine Coastal Training Program workshops were held in 2007 and reached 317 coastal decision-makers on topics as diverse as North Carolina’s coastal development rules, stormwater management, on-site wastewater treatment and disposal, the North Carolina Clean Marina program, and estuarine shoreline mapping.

EMC approves new coastal stormwater rules

The state’s Environmental Management Commission approved amendments to current coastal stormwater rules at their January meeting. The amendments are subject to review by the state legislature before they take effect, but could become effective as early as August 2008.

New residential projects that disturb less than an acre will not be required to have a stormwater permit. However, residential projects that disturb more that 10,000 square feet but less than an acre will be required to control and capture stormwater on site. They can use a combination of rain gardens, cisterns, rain barrels and pervious pavement or other approved methods to control the runoff.

Commercial projects that disturb 10,000 square feet or more will require stormwater permits under the new rules, bumping them up to a CAMA major permit, rather than a minor permit.

For those projects that require permits, the low-density impervious surface threshold that signals the need for engineered stormwater controls has decreased. For projects within one-half mile of shellfish waters, the threshold has decreased from 25 percent to 12 percent. Projects with greater than 12 percent impervious surface will be required to manage run-off for the 1 year – 24 hour storm.

For those projects farther than one-half mile from shellfish harvesting areas, the low-density impervious surface threshold has decreased from 30 percent to 24 percent.  Projects with greater than 24 percent impervious surface will be required to have engineered stormwater controls to manage runoff from 1.5 inches of rainfall.

The approved amendments also increase vegetated waterside buffers from 30 feet to 50 feet for new development. Redevelopment sites that do not increase impervious surface on the site will still come under the 30-foot requirements.

The amendments incorporate modifications recommended by hearing officers who were charged with holding public hearings last fall to collect public comments on the rule changes. Those modifications include eliminating the requirement for a stormwater permit for smaller residential projects (less than 1 acre); the provision requiring stormwater management devices in residential development that disturbs less than and acre of land but more than 10,000 square feet; and changes to allow stormwater controls other than infiltration for high-density projects.


NC DENR collects water conservation tips
As North Carolina remains in a state of severe to exceptional drought, it’s up to all of us to do our part to conserve. Ideas include everything from repairing leaks to using rain barrels to turning off the water while brushing your teeth.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has collected links to water conservation tips inone convenient location on the web.

CELCP Plan approved
North Carolina’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) Plan has been approved by NOAA. Each state is required to have an approved plan to be eligible for CELCP grants after 2008. North Carolina has requested a CELCP grant of $3 million to help acquire 6,600 acres along the Chowan River in Gates County. The grant is subject to congressional appropriations.

Staff news

Shaun Simpson has been promoted to the position of environmental technician for the division in the Wilmington office. Previously, Shaun was employed as administrative assistant to the DCM-Wilmington district office staff. Shaun holds an associates degree in Applied Science from Cape Fear Community College and has extensive experience in the administrative functions of DCM. 

DCM’s attorney,Merrie Jo Alcoke, left the N.C. Attorney General’s office in January, and will no longer represent DCM.

Fred Landa, planner in the Washington office, has left DCM for a position with the New York State Division of Coastal Resources.

DCM’s Clean Marina Program Coordinator,Jenny Webber, left the division at the end of January, due to a loss of funding for this position.


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