Oceanfront Construction Setback & Erosion Rates

Maps prepared by:
N.C. Division of Coastal Management, Policy & Planning Section, 2019

Division's interactive map explorer

North Carolina's oceanfront construction setback factors are calculated using the long-term (approximately 50 years) average annual shoreline change rates for the purpose of establishing oceanfront construction Setback Factors and Ocean Erodible Areas of Environmental Concern, which were initially established by the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) under the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) in 1979.  To explore oceanfront shoreline change rates (or erosion and accretion rates) and setback factors, use the Division's interactive map explorer.

Oceanfront construction setback is measured landward from the first line of stable natural vegetation, or a static vegetation line when applicable. Setback distance is determined by two variables; (1) size of structure; (2) a setback factor based on shoreline position change rates (see table below). As specified in Rule 15A NCAC 7H .0306(a)(5), the minimum, or default setback factor is 2, unless the shoreline is eroding at a rate greater than 2 feet per year. Therefore, when the shoreline is accreting (moving seaward), or eroding at a rate less than 2 feet per year, the default setback factor is 2. 

Structure Size Setback (ft) example using setback factor = 2
less than 5,000 sqft 60 feet or 30 times the setback factor 2 x 30 = 60 feet
greater than or equal to 5,000 sqft 120 feet or 60 times the setback factor 2 x 60 = 120 feet
greater than or equal to 10,000 sqft 130 feet or 65 times the setback factor 2 x 65 = 130 feet
greater than or equal to 20,000 sqft 140 feet or 70 times the setback factor 2 x 70 = 140 feet
greater than or equal to 40,000 sqft 150 feet or 75 times the setback factor 2 x 75 = 150 feet
greater than or equal to 60,000 sqft 160 feet or 80 times the setback factor 2 x 80 = 160 feet
greater than or equal to 80,000 sqft 170 feet or 85 times the setback factor 2 x 85 = 170 feet
greater than or equal to 100,000 sqft 180 feet or 90 times the setback factor 2 x 90 = 180 feet

The shoreline position change rate information is not intended to be predictive, nor does it reflect the short-term erosion that can occur during storms. The associated reports describe the methodology used to calculate both shoreline position change rates and setback factors, and also provides a summary of rates. The document is not considered to be a "state of the shoreline report ," nor was it designed to address "why " the shoreline is accreting or eroding. On February 28, 2019 the CRC approved updated setback factors (download report and maps); however, the most current and effective oceanfront development setback factors are still those adopted in February 2013. Please contact your CAMA Local Permit Officer or the nearest regional field office of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management for more information.

The DCM's interactive map explorer is an interactive map illustrating historic oceanfront and estuarine data. 

  • 2019 Setback Factors (download report and maps) were approved by the CRC on February 28, 2019.  Anticipated effective date August 2019.
  • 2013 Setback Factors (below) became effective on February 01, 2013
2 0 1 3   R e p o r t   &   M a p s Type / size click link below
Report (with all maps included at end of report) .pdf / 30.1MB Download
Data Summary .pdf / 3MB Download
Maps - Brunswick County .pdf / 15.7MB Download
Maps - Carteret County .pdf / 20MB Download
Maps - Currituck County .pdf / 8.8MB Download
Maps - Dare County .pdf / 27.2MB Download
Maps - Hyde County .pdf / 3MB Download
Maps - New Hanover County .pdf / 12.2MB Download
Maps - Onslow County .pdf / 10MB Download
Maps - Pender County .pdf / 5.2MB Download
2 0 1 3  S h o r e l i n e   C h a n g e   G I S   D a t a Type / size click link below
Setback Factors Shapefile (polygon) Download
Transects 50-meter (includes raw, smoothed, & blocked erosion rate data) Shapefile (line) Download
2009 Shoreline (wet/dry) Shapefile (line) Download
"Early" Shoreline (1942-1962) Shapefile (line) Download