The state’s top coastal management official is expected to propose new rules in response to the collapse earlier this year of beachfront homes on the Outer Banks and other beach homes currently at risk of falling into the l ‘ocean.
The proposed rules are expected to be presented to the State Coastal Resources Commission at its meeting this month in Wilmington.
The commission and its advisory board meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 14-15 at the Holiday Inn, 5032 Market St., Wilmington. The commission, made up of 13 appointed members, sets policy for the Coastal Management Division.
So far this year, three unoccupied seaside houses in Rodanthe have collapsed on national coastline property. The destruction required extensive cleanups as debris spread across miles of shoreline.
Related: Officials Not Surprised As 2 More Rodanthe Homes Collapse
Presentations by Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Dave Hallac and Coastal Management Division Director Braxton Davis are on the agenda for the commission’s meeting, which is open to the public but is not expected to not be broadcast live.
Davis is expected to present proposals for potential rule changes that stem from discussions of a recently created interagency working group that includes officials from the National Park Service and the Coastal Management Division, as well as the director and attorney of the Dare County.
The changes are expected to focus on the location and repairs of septic tanks in ocean hazard areas of environmental concern. The approach was discussed by the task force as “high priority/short-term action,” according to a memo from Davis to the committee.
About 750 of the approximately 8,777 beachfront structures were considered threatened by beachfront erosion, with no dunes or vegetation between the structure and the ocean, the memo said, “and this situation is expected to worsen as the sea level rise and coastal storms.”
Davis states in the memo that when structures are under imminent threat from beach erosion, “a complex web of regulatory, legal, insurance, and financial relief measures creates uncertainty for landowners and coastal managers”. He said some cases involve new owners making speculative investments in structures that are under imminent threat “due to the potential benefits of continued rental income and insurance payments”.
It states that such structures can pose significant risks to public health and safety, impacts to aquatic species and shorebirds and their habitats, and interference with public beach use.
“The public damages and costs associated with recent house collapses illustrate the need for a more holistic and proactive approach to addressing structures at risk of erosion,” Davis said in the memo.
The commission is also expected to receive the Attorney General’s advisory opinion regarding the commission’s authority over shellfish leases. In February, the commission sought the attorney general’s opinion on whether floating structures for shellfish farmers would fall under a Coastal Areas Management Act, or CAMA, an agricultural exemption, whether the structures would violate rights residents and whether local governments had the power to regulate the structures.
An update on the Marine Fisheries Commission’s shellfish concession regulations is also planned.
The commission is expected to hear a waiver request for a seaside retreat on Bald Head Island, consider adopting changes to rules on the boundaries of dangerous entry zones and approve a tax analysis to allow electronic payments.
With respect to beach management, the commission should be made aware of proposed changes to the minimum growing season for determining planted vegetation and setback from the beach front, a proposed expanded exemption for beach mats and an update on the study of the Water Resources Division’s dredged material management plan.
The Coastal Resources Advisory Board at its meeting at 3 p.m. on September 14 is expected to discuss the status of the rules for ocean fishing docks and provide an update on this discussion at the start of the commission meeting on September 15. . The council is a group of 20 members who advise the commission.