2nd-3rd Quarters 2014

Director's Note:

When asked, I tell people I work with CAMA. In my experience, most people have never heard of the Division of Coastal Management, but it seems almost everyone on the coast knows CAMA. Some may know us from past permitting experiences, some from our public beach access sites, and some through our Coastal Reserve education and science programs. In whatever way you may have come to know CAMA, it is my sincere hope that you can be proud of the North Carolina coastal management program.

This year, the Coastal Area Management Act celebrates its 40th anniversary. In 1974, the N.C. General Assembly passed this landmark legislation to guide development decisions in the 20 coastal counties of North Carolina. CAMA established the Coastal Resources Commission, the Coastal Resources Advisory Council, and a new partnership with local governments in permitting and planning for future coastal development. The core goal of the law is to maintain a delicate balance between safeguarding our magnificent coastal environment, encouraging public access to those resources, protecting private property and riparian rights, and fostering economic development.

Much has changed over the past four decades. During the 1980s, the coastal population grew at a rate almost twice that of the entire state. Six counties registered increases of more than 25 percent, led by Dare County at 70 percent. By the year 2000, most coastal counties saw growth rates of at least 20 percent. Currently, Onslow County is the fastest growing county in the state, with Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover Counties included in the top ten. Along with this burgeoning population has been an increase in the complexity of development proposals, as new projects are proposed in more environmentally sensitive areas, or adjacent to existing development where conflicts are more likely to occur.

The state coastal program has also changed and evolved over the years. For example, the regulatory program’s experience with routine coastal projects has led DCM staff to work with the CRC to establish General Permits for a wide variety of projects such as bulkheads, docks, and boat ramps. In fact, our rapid, on-site issuance of General Permits accounts for as much as 85% of the CAMA permits issued annually by DCM. In addition, over 100 Local Permit Officers, who serve within local governments across the coast and under authorities delegated by CAMA, continue to issue hundreds of Minor Permits each year for small-scale development projects. And our CAMA Major Permit offers a streamlined, one-stop-shop process where our staff can help walk an applicant through multiple state and federal reviews, often at reduced costs and within a far shorter timeframe than would otherwise be possible.

In our ongoing work to achieve the balance envisioned by CAMA, DCM and the CRC are making progress on some significant issues that you can read about below, including work on a comprehensive review of ocean inlet management in North Carolina, an update to a 2010 study on sea-level rise, and a new partnership to evaluate the state’s offshore sand resources. We hope that you will work with us to develop well-balanced solutions to these and other challenges in the years ahead.

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, NC Division of Coastal Management

In this Issue:

CRC Identifies Inlet Management Priorities

CRC Science Panel Begins Work on Sea-Level Rise Study Update

DCM Works with ECU and BOEM to Evaluate N.C. Sand Resources

CRC Considers Repeal of High Hazard Flood AEC

Proposed Changes for CAMA Land Use Planning Program

DCM awards nearly $600,000 in local government grants for access projects

Wynns, Naumann resign from CRC

Three sites certified, 12 others recertified as N.C. Clean Marinas

Legislative Update

Staff Kudos

Legal Update

CRC Identifies Inlet Management Priorities
In 2013, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission considered the creation of a Cape Fear River Area of Environmental Concern in accordance with Session Law 2012-202. At the conclusion of the one-year study, the commission determined that local governments adjacent to other ocean inlets often have to contend with issues similar to those identified by various stakeholder groups. As a result, the commission decided to undertake a coast-wide review of inlet-related development and management issues.

At the May CRC meeting, staff with the Division of Coastal Management presented 20 issue areas based on stakeholder input to date. Among these, the CRC identified the following 10 priority issues of interest:

Short Term Priorities                                          Long Term Priorities

Dredging Depths and Sediment Criteria Rules          Beneficial Use of Dredged Material
Erosion Rate Calculations for Inlet Hazard Areas     Inlet Management Plans
Emergency Permitting/Beach Bulldozing                Funding Sources and Partnerships
Static Vegetation Lines                                          Dredging Windows/Moratoria
Stockpiling of Sand                                                Monitoring Conditions

At its July meeting, the commission further refined the priority list, asking DCM staff to focus on the beneficial use of dredged materials; establishment of an Inlet Management Area for State Ports; development of alternatives to the “static vegetation line” rules; and examining the possibility of expanded dredging windows for beach and inlet projects.

More information on the study is available on our website.

For more information, please contact Mike Lopazanski at 



CRC Science Panel Begins Work on Sea-Level Rise Study Update
In a June 11 letter to the CRC Science Panel, CRC chair Frank Gorham communicated the commission’s charge to the panel regarding an update of the panel’s 2010 sea-level rise study report, and announced the appointment of Greg “Rudi” Rudolph, Carteret County Shore Protection Manager, to fill one of the vacant seats on the panel.

The CRC’s charge to the panel is to conduct “a comprehensive review of scientific literature and available North Carolina data that addresses the full range of global, regional and North Carolina specific sea-level change.” The CRC further directed the panel to limit the scope of the study to a 30-year rolling time table, to be updated every five years.

The Science Panel will continue to meet monthly with a goal of completing a draft report by Dec. 31. All meetings of the Science Panel are open to the public and are announced on the DCM website and by press release.

Once completed, the panel’s draft report will be forwarded to a technical peer review group for comments. The draft report and all comments will be submitted to the CRC and released for public comment by March 31, 2015. Following an extended public comment period, the report will be finalized in early 2016 and delivered to the N.C. General Assembly by March 1, 2016 as required by Session Law 2012-202.

For more information, visit http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/cm/sea-level-rise-study-update or contact Tancred Miller at Tancred.Miller@ncdenr.gov.

DCM Works with ECU and BOEM to Evaluate N.C. Sand Resources
The Division of Coastal Management will partner with East Carolina University on a two-year cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) totaling $200,000 to evaluate sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning.

Under the agreement, scientists from ECU and the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC CSI) will work with DCM and Geodynamics LLC to evaluate and consolidate existing geological and geophysical data offshore North Carolina. These data will be used to identify and locate potential areas of sand resources, as well as benthic habitat, with the overall goal of making this data accessible to project planners and resource managers. ECU, UNC CSI and its partners will re-analyze existing data in northeastern North Carolina (north of Cape Hatteras) to develop a revised evaluation of sand resources with the latest available information. Areas for future resource surveys will also be identified.

“The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management is excited to be working with East Carolina University and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to perform this greatly-needed assessment of sand resources in North Carolina,” said DCM director Braxton Davis. “This project will help improve our understanding of the quality and quantity of sand deposits offshore of North Carolina for use by local governments and the state in planning future coastal storm damage reduction projects.”

The agreement will also help North Carolina develop tools to more readily share sand resource data with other agencies involved in coastal resilience planning.

For more information, please contact Mike Lopazanski at 




CRC Considers Repeal of High Hazard Flood AEC
As part of its annual review of the Coastal Resources Commission’s rules and policies, DCM earlier this year proposed that the Coastal Resources Commission consider the feasibility of eliminating the High Hazard Flood Area of Environmental Concern, or 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 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 permit 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.

Because the CRC’s rules for this AEC defer to the state building code and require adherence to NFIP standards and local ordinances, DCM staff recommended that the CRC consider repealing the AEC. This action would remove approximately 15,000 properties from CRC permitting authority.

At its July meeting, the CRC voted to send the matter to public hearing. A date for the hearing has not yet been set.

For more information, please contact Mike Lopazanski at 



Proposed Changes for CAMA Land Use Planning Program
The Division of Coastal Management, in partnership with the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, the Business Alliance for a Sound Economy and the North Carolina Coastal Federation, hosted two regional land use planning workshops earlier this year to seek input from local elected officials and planning staff on their experiences with the CAMA Land Use Planning Program, implementation of the 15A NCAC 7B Land Use Planning Guidelines, and to discuss possible new directions for the planning program.

In addition, workshop participants discussed new opportunities for increased technical assistance, streamlined plan reviews, and reduced local planning burdens through improved coordination with other planning requirements and activities. 

DCM is in the process of amending the 15A NCAC 7B Land Use Planning Guidelines in response to the input received from local governments. These amendments will include changes to streamline the land use plan amendment and update process, reduce the amount of analysis required, and incorporate other planning efforts to reduce redundancy in overlapping plans.

In the coming weeks, draft language will be presented to the Coastal Resources Commission and will also be available for review on DCM’s website. We would like to receive written comments regarding the proposed changes. Public input will be included in a report to the CRC at their December meeting. If you have any questions or would like further information on the rule changes, please contact Mike Lopazanski at mike.lopazanski@ncdenr.gov.

DCM awards nearly $600,000 in local government grants for access projects
The Division of Coastal Management awarded nearly $600,000 to eight local governments for projects to improve public access to coastal beaches and waters for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The division awarded grants to the following local governments:

· Town of Swansboro received $35,250 to install a canoe/kayak launch, gangway, concrete walkway to parking, and a 45-foot boardwalk extension.

· Town of Kitty Hawk received $52,941 for the installation of 16 paved parking spaces and associated improvements at an existing beach access.

· Town of Atlantic Beach received $66,532 to replace and construct an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant walkway and dune crossover.

· City of Washington received $120,000 for the construction of a pier.

· Town of Oriental received $47,250 to construct restrooms at the South Avenue Boat House Project.

· Town of Windsor received $31,500 for the construction of parking, kayak staging and a walkway.

· Town of Topsail Beach received $45,391 to construct an ADA-compliant dune crossover.

· Town of Morehead City received $200,000 for the construction of an open pavilion at an existing waterfront park.

The division’s Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access program provides matching funds to local governments in the 20 coastal counties. Governments that receive grants must match them by contributing at least 25 percent toward the project’s cost.

Funding for the grant program comes from the N.C. General Assembly through the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Access projects may include walkways, dune crossovers, restrooms, parking areas, piers and related facilities. Funds also may be used for land acquisition or urban waterfront revitalization.

The grant program has provided more than $37 million for more than 300 public waterfront access sites since the program began in 1981.

For more information, please contact Mike Lopazanski at Mike.Lopazanski@ncdenr.gov.

Wynns, Naumann resign from CRC
CRC members Lee Wynns and Bill Naumann have resigned from the commission effective June 30.

Mr. Wynns, of Bertie County, filled the seat requiring experience in commercial fishing. He is retired as the president/operator of Perry-Wynns Fish Company, Inc. He served on the CRC for 11 years.

Mr. Naumann, of Craven County,filled the seat requiring experience in engineering or a marine-related science. He is the president of Transformation Venture Capital in New Bern, and previously served as the chairman of Hatteras Yachts Inc. He was appointed to the CRC in 2013.

DCM staff wish Mr. Wynns and Mr. Naumann the very best and appreciate their service to the state of North Carolina.

Three sites certified, 12 others recertified as N.C. Clean Marinas
Three coastal marinas have been certified, and 12 others re-certified, as North Carolina Clean Marinas, a designation given to marinas that go above and beyond the state’s environmental regulations. 

The Sea Harbour Condominium Yacht Club in Oriental, the Shallowbag Bay Marina in Manteo, and the N.C. Dept. of Transportation Bayview Ferry Terminal in Bath have most recently earned the status as North Carolina Clean Marinas.

The Clean Marina program recognizes marina operators that help safeguard the environment by using management and operation techniques that exceed environmental requirements. To earn the certification, the marina’s owners prepare spill prevention plans and conduct safety and emergency planning. Marina operators also control boat maintenance activities to protect water quality. Marinas must complete the re-certification process every three years in order to retain their certification as a North Carolina Clean Marina.

In addition to the three newcomers, 12 coastal marinas have been re-certified as North Carolina Clean Marinas. They are:

· The Boathouse at Front Street Village, Beaufort

· Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach 

· Coinjock Marina, Coinjock 

· Cypress Landing, Chocowinity  

· Federal Point Yacht Club, Carolina Beach

· Harbor Oaks Boataminium, Carolina Beach 

· Harbour Village Marina, Hampstead

· Joyner Marina, Carolina Beach 

· Mona Black Marina, Carolina Beach 

· New Bern Grand Marina, New Bern 

· Southport Marina, Southport 

· Wilmington Marine Center, Wilmington 

Clean Marina is a voluntary program in which marina operators who choose to participate complete an evaluation form about their use of specific best management practices. If a marina meets criteria developed by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, it will be designated as a North Carolina 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.

For more information, contact Pat Durrett at pat.durrett@ncdenr.gov.

Legislative Update
Bills of interest from this year’s session of the General Assembly:

S744 – Appropriations

· Creates a Coastal and Estuarine Water Beach Access Program/Fund with funds transferred from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. PARTF funds are traditionally used to fund beach and water access projects. The new fund is a special revenue fund consisting of gifts and grants to the fund along with General Assembly appropriations.

· Authorizes the acquisition of federal lands surrounding Oregon Inlet to manage existing and future transportation corridors on the Outer Banks and create a state park. Allows the governor, after the declaration of a state of emergency, to waive requirements for the repair or replacement of coastal bridges that are the only access to a barrier island.

· Signed by Gov. McCrory Aug. 7

S734, Regulatory Reform Act of 2014:

· Directs the CRC to not establish any new inlet hazard areas, and to repeal existing IHAs in areas that are the former location of an inlet that has been closed for at least 15 years; where the location no longer includes the current location of the inlet; or the location includes an inlet providing access to a state port via a channel maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

· Changes to contested case rules for CAMA permits, by removing the automatic stay provision on CAMA permits when appealed by third parties. The permit would remain in effect unless a stay is issued by an Administrative Law Judge.

· If a permit applicant submits a permit for development, and a rule governing the development changes before the application is approved, allows the applicant to choose which version of the rule will apply to the permit.

· Repeals the section of last year's regulatory reform bill that prevented local governments from enacting any ordinance stricter than state or federal law or rule, and requires DENR to submit a report to the ERC on Nov. 1, 2014 and Nov. 1, 2015 of any local government ordinances that impinge on or interfere with any area regulated by the department.

· Expands the Hardison amendment. All rules stronger than federal minimum standards are now automatically subject to legislative review.

· Signed by Gov. McCrory Sept. 18.

S788/S.L 2014-86 – Town of Duck/Eminent Domain – Allows Town of Duck to exercise eminent domain for beach erosion control, flood and hurricane protection projects.Ratified July 25.

H1248 – Authority to Remove Abandoned Vessels – Gives Washington County the authority to remove abandoned vessels from navigable waters.Passed the House, referred to Senate committee on state and local government.

Staff Kudos

In each newsletter we like to highlight recent kudos for our staff. A local marina owner recently sent a letter praising the efforts of Morehead City field representative Heather Styron:

“Ms. Heather Styron is an exceptional person to deal with... Ms. Styron dealt with us in [a difficult] atmosphere and did an outstanding job of sifting through the morass of miscommunication and provided a timely and excellent service. Her day by day handling of our dredging permit process was timely, accurate, and very professional.”

Wilmington field representative Holley Snider exceeded a customer's expectations when she helped him get a permit to add to his pier:

“In today’s hectic environment we tend to often be critical and seldom offer praise. However, the purpose of this letter is to inform you of the outstanding service I received from your associate, Holly Snider. I recently had to obtain a permit for a platform addition to my existing pier ... As I was only going to be in NC for three or four days prior to returning to Connecticut, I was under time constraint and Holly was very considerate and helpful. She came to look over the site on short notice and greatly assisted in completing the drawing and paperwork. It is not very often that you encounter someone with a caring attitude, especially in a government position where good will may not be a requirement. In any case, I am very pleased to praise Holly and her wonderful assistance. “

Wilmington field representative Heather Coats received this kudos from a customer:

“Just wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for your valuable time on Wednesday. It was great meeting you and I appreciate your help and guidance in exploring options and discussing code requirements… Thanks again for your help and professionalism in helping us understand our options.”

Two recent visitors to the Rachel Carson Reserve sent in these comments about reserve manager Paula Gillikin:

“Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to explore Rachel Carson Reserve on a July 8th, 2014 summer field trip. (free!) It was a perfect summer morning. We were greeted by smiling interns, received excellent information about the reserve ecology and conditions from the Site Manager and our Captain, Paula Gillikin and had a good hike with a wonderful volunteer, Sue Suggs. It was our first visit and I cannot wait to return. Thank you for this chance to explore such a valuable asset to the North Carolina coast.”

“Really enjoyed a 2 hr. a.m. boat ride with Paula, as driver and guide, of NCDENR this week. WOW! She was great: informative, friendly and competent. This was the highlight of our trip. The group saw various types of birds which she told us about, dolphins and wild horses. We hope this program continues so we can do it again on our next trip south to this beautiful area.”

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 (and was granted review of other issues not in the COA dissent) which ultimately held that the CRC should have granted the fifth variance request by the Riggings to allow sandbags to remain indefinitely at the site. The Supreme Court also allowed the Riggings’ Petition for Discretionary Review on cross-appeal issues. The parties submitted new briefs and the Court heard oral argument on October 6. The Court’s decision is expected in early 2015. 

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 discussions regarding settlement before possibly moving to filing cross-motions for summary judgment and/or having a full contested case hearing.