State coastal commission to hold public hearings on rule change


As part of an effort to improve regulatory efficiency, the state Coastal Resources Commission will hold public hearings in each of North Carolina’s eight oceanfront counties to gather comments on a proposal to change the formula used to calculate the width of the Ocean Erodible Area of Environmental Concern. The change will result in an overall decrease in the amount of oceanfront property that falls under the commission’s permitting authority. The hearings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

  • Feb. 10, 1:30 pm. – Hilton Doubletree, 2717 W. Fort Macon Rd., Atlantic Beach
  • Feb. 18, 3 p.m. – Surf City Town Hall, 214 N. New River Dr., Surf City
  • Feb. 18, 5 p.m. – Onslow County Public Library, 1330 Hwy 210, Sneads Ferry
  • Mar. 3, 1 p.m. – Council Room, Oak Island Town Hall, 4601 E. Oak Island Dr., Oak Island
  • Mar. 3, 5 p.m. – Finance Conference Room #500, New Hanover County Government Center, 230 Government Center Dr., Wilmington
  • April 6, 1 p.m. – Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Dept., 822 Irvin Garrish Hwy, Ocracoke
  • May 9, 5 p.m. – Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, 1160 Village Lane, Corolla
  • May 10, 1:30 p.m. – Dare County Administration Building, 954 Marshall C. Collins Dr., Manteo
The Ocean Erodible Area of Environmental Concern covers North Carolina’s beaches and any other oceanfront lands that experience long-term beach erosion and significant shoreline changes. The landward boundary of this area is measured from the first point on the beach where stable, natural vegetation is present. The boundary is currently determined by adding a distance equal to 60 times the long-term, average annual erosion rate for that stretch of shoreline to the distance of erosion expected during a major storm (100-year storm). The width of the area currently varies from about 145 feet to more than 700 feet. Average annual erosion rates for oceanfront properties are determined by the state’s coastal management agency.
The commission is proposing to alter the formula used to calculate the width of this area in order to be consistent with its current rules regarding setbacks for oceanfront construction. In the new calculation, the landward boundary would be determined by measuring from the first line of stable, natural vegetation and adding a distance equal to 90 times the long-term, average annual erosion rate, a change from the current multiplier of 60.
The change would also no longer add the distance determined by an outdated model that predicts the rate at which dunes will move back from the ocean during a major storm. The model is no longer necessary because the federal government now incorporates dune recession into National Flood Insurance Program V-Zones.
Written comments on the proposed rule change will be accepted until May 10, and may be sent via mail to Braxton C. Davis, Director, N.C. Division of Coastal Management, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City, N.C., 28557, or via e-mail to Copies of the proposed rule change are available online at

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