3rd Quarter 2013

Director's Note:

We’ve reached the end of another busy summer, and with it the end of a busy legislative session. This session resulted in some new laws affecting the Division of Coastal Management, including changes to the Coastal Resources Commission and Coastal Resources Advisory Council, along with some regulatory changes that will streamline some of our permitting processes. You’ll read more about those below.

We’ve also continued to move forward on several important studies associated with House Bill 819, including a study of the feasibility of creating a new Area of Environmental Concern for lands adjacent to the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and a study of the possibility of eliminating beachfront Inlet Hazard Areas of Environmental Concern. We look forward to continuing this work with the new Commission and Advisory Council.  The division is also working with coastal local governments on a comprehensive review of the land use planning program.

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, N.C. Division of Coastal Management

In this Issue:

New Members Appointed to N.C. Coastal Resources Commission

Critical Sea Turtle Habitat Proposed for Eastern U.S. Beaches and Waters

Two Public Hearings Scheduled for November

A Tamer Fourth of July at Masonboro Island

Education Coordinator Lori Davis wins EENC Environmental Educator of the Year 

Two Morehead City Marinas Certified as North Carolina Clean Marinas

North Carolina Hosts Governors South Atlantic Alliance

Check Out the New and ImprovedTidal Flat

Staff Kudos

Legislative Update

Legal Update

New Members Appointed to N.C. Coastal Resources Commission

Several new members have been appointed to the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, following recent legislative action that changed the commission’s makeup and appointment authorities. The new members are as follows:

Appointed by Gov. McCrory:

· Frank Gorham (New Hanover County)– Mr. Gorham fills the coastal property owner or experience in land development seat. He will also serve as chairman of the commission. Mr. Gorham owns Sandstone Properties LLC.

· Greg Lewis (Carteret County)– Mr. Lewis fills the second seat for a coastal property owner or person experienced in land development. He currently serves as chairman of the Carteret County Board of Commissioners.

· Bill Naumann (Craven County)– Mr. Naumann fills the seat requiring experience in engineering or a marine-related science. He is the president of Transformation Venture Capital in New Bern, NC and previously served as the chairman of Hatteras Yachts Inc.

· Neal Andrew (New Hanover County) – Mr. Andrew fills the second seat requiring experience in engineering or a marine-related science. He is the president of Andrew Consulting Engineers in Wilmington, N.C.

· Suzanne Dorsey (Brunswick County)– Dr. Dorsey fills the seat requiring experience in coastal related business. She is the executive director of Bald Head Island Conservancy & Smith Island Land Trust.

Appointed by the Senate President Pro-Tem:

· Marc Hairston (Onslow County) – Capt. Hairston fills the seat requiring experience in the area of wildlife. He is the owner of Bad Habit Sportfishing in Sneads Ferry, N.C.

· Harry Simmons (Brunswick County) – Mr. Simmons fills an at-large seat. He is the mayor of Caswell Beach, president of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, and executive director of the NC Beach, Inlet, and Waterway Association.

Remaining on the commission:

· Bob Emory (Craven County)– Mr. Emory fills the seat requiring experience in coastal forestry, and has been a member of the CRC since 1994. He is the environmental manager at Weyerhauser’s Southern Timberlands Operations.

· Renee Cahoon (Dare County) – Ms. Cahoon fills the seat requiring experience in local government within the coastal area. She is self-employed in the family-owned Cahoon’s Market and Cottages in Nags Head. She was mayor of Nags Head from 1991 through 2000 and again from 2005 to 2009. Ms. Cahoon has served on the CRC since 2002.

· Ben “Jamin” Simmons (Hyde County)– Mr. Simmons fills the seat requiring experience in coastal agriculture. He has been a member of the CRC since 2010, previously filling the seat requiring experience in sport fishing. Mr. Simmons owns farmland in Hyde and Tyrell counties and is the founder and owner of Dare to Hyde Outdoor Adventures.

· Lee Wynns (Bertie County)– Mr. Wynns fills the seat requiring experience in commercial fishing. He is retired as the president/operator of Perry-Wynns Fish Company, Inc. This is his 11th year serving on the CRC.

Critical Sea Turtle Habitat Proposed for Eastern U.S. Beaches and Waters

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under authorities granted by the Endangered Species Act, has proposed to designate several coastal beaches in North Carolina and other states as Critical Habitat for the threatened Northwest Atlantic Ocean population of loggerhead sea turtle. In addition, the National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed the designation of in-water critical habitat for loggerhead sea turtles in 36 areas throughout the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, including North Carolina.

North Carolina has joined other states in submitting formal comments on these actions in recent months. In particular, DCM feels strongly that these federal actions should be reviewed through the state’s coastal zone management program as part of its federal consistency review process. If adopted, the designations have the potential to impact a wide variety of federally-permitted and federally-funded coastal projects, including beach nourishment and dredging projects. Recently, DENR Secretary John Skvarla issued a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Commerce raising additional concerns over the proposals by both agencies.

For more information, please contact Braxton Davis at 




Two Public Hearings Scheduled for November

The Coastal Resources Commission, or CRC, will hold two public hearings in November on proposed rule amendments.

The first public hearing is regarding a proposed amendment to 15A NCAC 07H.0304, which would remove the Inlet Hazard Area designation from the site formerly occupied by Mad Inlet in Brunswick County. Mad Inlet closed in 1997 and is not expected to reopen, and the Inlet Hazard Area designation is deemed by the CRC to be no longer necessary for permitting purposes. The public hearing will be held Nov. 6 at 5 p.m., at the Sunset Beach Fire Station, 102 Shoreline Drive, Sunset Beach. 

The second hearing is on a proposed rule amendment to 15A NCAC 07H.0304, which would remove the temporary Unvegetated Beach designation from the area in the vicinity of Hatteras Village. The existing vegetation line has exhibited recovery since 2004 and the Unvegetated Beach designation is deemed by the CRC to be no longer necessary for permitting purposes. The public hearing will be held Nov. 12 at 5 p.m., at the Hatteras Village Community Building, 57689 N.C. Highway 12, Hatteras. 

Comments on either proposed rule change will be accepted until Dec. 12 and may be sent to Braxton C. Davis, Director, N.C. Division of Coastal Management, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City, N.C., 28557, or Braxton.Davis@ncdenr.gov (252-808-2808). Copies of the proposed rule changes and maps of both areas are available on the DCM website.

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

A Better Fourth of July at Masonboro Island

The Fourth of July holiday left the Masonboro Island Reserve in better shape than in years past, thanks in large part to an agreement between DCM and the New Hanover County Sherriff’s Office to increase the number of law enforcement officers present on the island during the holiday weekend this year.

The decision to add law enforcement officers came after concerns about numerous incidents during previous July 4 parties at Masonboro Island Reserve, which is part of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wilmington. During the past several years, unofficial Fourth of July parties have left large piles of trash along at least a quarter-mile of the island, and have resulted in a growing number of arrests for underage drinking, fighting, boating violations, accidents and injuries.

This year, the division, the Sherriff’s Office, and local volunteers worked together on an extensive outreach campaign leading up to the holiday, using television, newspapers and social media to urge party goers to act responsibly while visiting the island.

Although the number of visitors increased substantially – an estimated 2,300 people visited the island on July 4th compared to 1,500 in 2012 – the crowd was calmer than in years past, likely due to the increased law enforcement presence. There were also far fewer injuries. The department greatly appreciates the willingness of local law enforcement officials and local volunteers to partner with us on this issue and their outstanding efforts during the holiday weekend.

Education Coordinator Lori Davis wins EENC Environmental Educator of the Year 
Lori Davis, education coordinator for the N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s NationalLori Davis Estuarine Reserve and Coastal Reserve Program, recently received the 2013 Environmental Educator of the Year Award from the Environmental Educators of North Carolina. 

Lori was recognized for her work with students and teachers through educational and outreach activities that advance coastal environmental literacy and encourage students and the public to practice environmental stewardship. An awards ceremony was held Saturday at EENC’s Annual Conference at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville.

“The Division of Coastal Management is so proud and excited that Lori is receiving this award,” said Braxton Davis, director of the state Division of Coastal Management. “We already know she is one of the best educators in her field, and it’s great to see that her dedication and outstanding programs are recognized by the environmental education community.”

During the past 13 years, Lori has taught and inspired students of all ages about the natural history and cultural heritage on the North Carolina coast. As a state certified environmental educator, Lori interacts with more than 400 school children each year through field trips to the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort, N.C. She also conducts teacher workshops highlighting coastal reserve programs, develops standards-based curriculum for teachers to use in their classrooms, and conducts free environmental education programs for students, teachers and the public.

Lori was nominated for the award by several of her environmental education colleagues, along with teachers from schools she works with each year. The award recognizes environmental educators for their valuable contributions to environmental literacy, environmental education, and the environmental well-being of North Carolina.


Two Morehead City Marinas Certified as North Carolina Clean Marinas
The Morehead City Yacht Basin and Portside Marina, both in Morehead City, are the newest facilities to be certified as North Carolina Clean Marinas, a designation given to marinas that exceed minimum regulatory requirements.

The Clean Marina program illustrates how marina operators can 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.

Clean Marina is a voluntary program in which 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 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.

North Carolina Hosts Governors South Atlantic Alliance
North Carolina hosted representatives of the coastal management, Sea Grant programs, and a range of ocean and coastal stakeholders from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida for the third annual meeting of the Governors South Atlantic Alliance, held in DENR’s Nature Resource Center in early September. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss key issues affecting the region’s ocean and coasts and identify specific partnership and resource opportunities. 

The four states that comprise the GSAA work together to identify issues of shared concern and leverage support from federal and regional partners. For more information, visit the Governors South Atlantic Alliance website.


Check Out the New and Improved Tidal Flat
The N.C. Coastal Reserve Program has a newly redesigned newsletter, the Tidal Flat. The new version comes directly to your email inbox in a beautiful new format. If you’d like to keep up with the latest news from the Coastal Reserve program, including research projects, education news, and training opportunities, just visit this link to subscribe

For more information contact Whitney Jenkins at whitney.jenkins@ncdenr.gov.


Staff Kudos

In each newsletter, we like to highlight recent kudos for our staff. A recent letter praised the efforts of DCM staff in assisting with emergency dredging efforts:

“After discussions with Heather Coats at the Wilmington Regional Office explaining the emergency nature of the shoaling … Heather secured … verbal approval from the Division of Water Quality, Marine Fisheries, and Shellfish. By Thursday, Doug Huggett and Debbie Wilson provided written approval after federal approvals came in from ACOE and National Marine Fisheries. (We received) formal approval by Doug Huggett for our urgent bypass dredge needs through the critical vacation period until July 12.” “The two day response was exceptional for the amount of state and federal agencies involved and was much appreciated. Thank you again for the kind assistance of everyone. We just wanted to take this opportunity to not let great work go unrecognized.”

Ryan Davenport in DCM’s Morehead City office followed up on a concern about a possible wastewater issue. Following an on-site investigation, no violations were found:

“Thanks to all of you for your quick response to my concerns. I feel very confident that our coastline is being well-monitored and protected. I am very impressed by your diligence.”

Holley Snider, field representative in the Wilmington Office, received the following accolade from a customer that she assisted with a CAMA permit for a boat lift and dock:

“I just wanted to comment on how helpful Holley has been throughout the process of getting the CAMA approval for my proposed boat lift and dock. She made the process extremely smooth for us, met us on site before we had even closed the lot and acted as an intermediary …. She went above and beyond the call in making sure that I got everything right at the beginning so that I avoided problems and headaches down the line. She was tremendously helpful in guiding me through the process every step of the way and it was a pleasure to work with her.”

DCM is always proud of our staff’s commitment to providing all of our customers with the very best in customer service.

Legislative Update

Ratified and signed bills affecting Coastal Management from this year’s session of the General Assembly:

SB 402– Appropriations:  $20.6 billion compromise state budget.

  • Ends the terms of existing members of the Coastal Resources Commission as of June 30, 2013. Retains four current CRC members until June 30, 2014 (Bob Emory, Lee Wynns, Jamin Simmons and Renee Cahoon). Reduces the CRC from 15 to 13 members, and removes residency requirements for commissioners. Areas of expertise for the revamped commission are: land development (2), coastal engineering or marine-related science (2), coastal-related business, local government, coastal agriculture, commercial fishing, coastal forestry, sports fishing, and wildlife. Two members will be “at-large.” CRC appointments, previously all made by the governor, change to nine members appointed by the governor, two by the N.C. Senate President Pro Tem, and two by the N.C. Speaker of the House. 
  • Ends the terms of existing members of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council, or CRAC, as of June 30, 2013. Reduces the CRAC from 45 to 20 members. Eliminates CRAC agency appointments currently made by state department heads and others, and gives that authority to the Coastal Resources Commission. Once we have a full CRC in place, we will begin the process of appointing CRAC members.

HB 74 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2013:

  • Amends Dredge and Fill Permit Application Procedure for Notice to Adjoining Property Owners– HB 74 amends the Dredge and Fill Law to allow signed statements of no objection by adjacent property owners to be considered as an acceptable alternative to certified mail requirements for adjacent property owner notification for CAMA Major Permits.
  • Amends CAMA Minor Permit Notice Requirements -- Eliminates the requirement for newspaper publication of public notice for CAMA Minor Permits. This change will allow local permitting programs to retain more of the fees associated with CAMA Minor Permits and should result in the expedited issuance of permits.
  • Periodic Review and Expiration of Rules - Requires state agencies to review rules every 10 years and sort the rules into three groups: rules that are necessary and of substantive public interest; rules that are necessary and without substantive public interest; and rules that are unnecessary.Rules falling under Category 2 will be allowed to stand as-is. Rules falling under Category 3 will be expired on the date of the report, and will not need to be officially repealed. Rules falling under Category 1 will need to be readopted in accordance with the N.C. Administrative Procedures Act. We do not yet know the timeline for the rules review process for DCM; however, we are currently working on an initial rule analysis in anticipation of this requirement.
  • Fiscal Notes on Rules - Changes the threshold at which an agency must prepare a fiscal note for a rule change, from $500,000 to $1 million (i.e., the financial impact on all persons affected by the rule change within the first year must be at least $1 million before a fiscal note is required).

SB 151 – Coastal Policy Reform Act of 2013: 

  • Amend Terminal Groin Construction Law – Changes the definition of terminal groin to include projects that involve installation of a number of smaller supporting structures. The bill retains the cap of four terminal groins allowed by the 2011 law.
  • Other changes:
    • SEPA review of terminal groin proposals is no longer required.
    • Applicant does not need to demonstrate that other erosion-control measures are not practicable.
    • Expands the types of allowable financial instruments for mitigation.

HB 707 – Ensure Safe Navigation Channels: 

Requires DENR to take steps to ensure shallow draft navigation channels are navigable:

  • DENR will use long-term agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain the dredging of the state’s navigation channels to depths authorized by state law;
  • DENR will assist local governments in their pursuit of general permit authorizations by the Corps to dredge shallow draft navigation channels to depths authorized by state law; and
  • DENR will assist local governments in their pursuit of CAMA permit authorizations issued by the Corps to allow the dredging  of shallow draft navigation channels


Legal Update of Active Cases

Cases in the North Carolina Court of Appeals:

The Riggings HOA v. CRC(New Hanover 09 CVS 2761) - Judicial review of the CRC’s denial of a variance on re-hearing to allow expired sandbags to remain with no definite end date. The court ruled in favor of The Riggings on Aug. 6, but Judge Bryant dissented regarding arguments on the fourth variance factor.  The commission filed a Notice of Appeal (re: 4th variance factor) and a Petition for Discretionary Review (PDR) regarding the first variance factor on Sept. 10. The Riggings filed a Motion to Dismiss and a Conditional PDR on Sept. 24, arguing that the commission did not have a quorum when it met on Aug. 26, 2013. These issues are all pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Busik v. CRC and 1118 Longwood(Brunswick 11 CVS 2596) - CRC’s Final Agency Decision regarding the interpretation of the ocean erosion setback rule (15A NCAC 7H .0306). The court heard oral arguments on June 5 and the parties are awaiting the court’s ruling.

Other cases of note:

Defenders of Wildlife & NWRA v. DCM and DOT (13 EHR 16087) – Administrative appeal of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Major CAMA permit for the replacement of Bonner Bridge. The case is in the early stages of mediation and discovery and has not yet been scheduled for hearing. The related federal litigation where the petitioners challenged DOT’s environmental impact statement has been appealed by the petitioners to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court in Richmond following a ruling in favor of DOT by The Honorable Louise Flanagan, District Court Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina.