Building, Dredging, Filling or Excavating? Will Your Project Require Permit?

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Division of Coastal Management

You must obtain a Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, permit for your project if it meets all of the following conditions:

  • It is in one of the 20 counties covered by CAMA.
  • It is considered “development” under CAMA.
  • It is in, or it affects, an Area of Environmental Concern (AEC) established by the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC).
  • It doesn’t qualify for an exemption.

What’s the CRC?

The Coastal Resources Commission is a 15-member citizen board appointed by the Governor to establish rules and policies for development within the 20 coastal counties.

The CRC receives guidance from a 45-member Coastal Resources Advisory Council, or CRAC. CRAC members represent local governments, state agencies and other areas of technical expertise. Members of the CRAC are responsible for keeping their appointing bodies up-to-date on CRC activities.

What are the 20 coastal counties covered by CAMA?

If your project is in one of the following 20 counties and is located along the state’s rivers, sounds or the Atlantic Ocean, you may need a permit:eastern-north-carolina-counties

  • Beaufort
  • Bertie
  • Brunswick
  • Camden
  • Carteret
  • Chowan
  • Craven
  • Currituck
  • Dare
  • Gates
  • Hertford
  • Hyde
  • New Hanover
  • Onslow
  • Pamlico
  • Pasquotank
  • Pender
  • Perquimans
  • Tyrrell
  • Washington

Does my project qualify as development?

The Coastal Area Management Act defines development as: “any activity in a duly designated area of environmental concern … involving, requiring or consisting of the construction or enlargement of a structure; excavation; dredging; filling; dumping; removal of clay, silt, sand, gravel or minerals; bulkheading; driving of pilings; clearing or alteration of land as an adjunct of construction; alteration or removal of sand dunes; alteration of the shore, bank or bottom of the Atlantic Ocean or any sound, bay, river, creek, stream, lake or canal; or placement of a floating structure in an Area of Environmental Concern identified in G.S. 113A-113(b)(2) or (b)(5)” {NCGS 113A-103(5)(a)}.

Is my project in an Area of Environmental Concern?

You’re probably in an AEC if your project is:

  • in, or on the shore of, navigable waters within the 20 CAMA counties;
  • on a marsh or wetland;
  • within 75 feet of the normal high water line along an estuarine shoreline;
  • near the ocean beach;
  • within an ocean high hazard flood area;
  • near an inlet;
  • within 30 feet of the normal high water level of areas designated as inland fishing waters by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission;
  • near a public water supply;
  • within 575 feet of Outstanding Resource Waters defined by the Environmental Management Commission.

Areas of Environmental Concern are described in detail in the next section of this manual. If you already know that your project is in an AEC and you want to go straight to the application information, turn to Section 5.

North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Division of Coastal Management

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