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NC Coastal Resources Commission schedules public hearings on updated oceanfront erosion rates

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RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -- The NC Coastal Resources Commission will conduct eight public hearings during August and September on a proposal to incorporate updated long-term average annual erosion rates into the state’s oceanfront development rules.

Hearings will take place in each of the eight coastal counties that contain ocean shoreline. The schedule is as follows:
·5 p.m. Aug. 28 – New Hanover County Government Center, 230 Government Center Drive, Wilmington
·5 p.m. Aug. 29 – Sea Trail Golf Resort and Convention Center, 75A Clubhouse Road, Sunset Beach
·2 p.m. Sept. 5 – Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, 215 Back Road, Ocracoke
·5 p.m. Sept. 6 – NC Division of Coastal Management, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City
·3 p.m. Sept. 11 – Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, 1160 Village Lane, Corolla
·7 p.m. Sept. 11 – Kill Devil Hills Town Hall, 102 Town Hall Drive, Kill Devil Hills
·3 p.m. Sept. 13 – Surf City Town Hall, 241 North New River Drive, Surf City
·5 p.m. Sept. 18 – North Topsail Beach City Hall, 2008 Loggerhead Court, North Topsail Beach

Anyone may submit written comments about the proposal to Braxton Davis, Division of Coastal Management, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City, NC 28557. You may also submit comments by email to Braxton.Davis@ncdenr.gov. The deadline for written comments is Oct. 1.

A long-term average annual erosion rate is based on the average amount of erosion that occurs each year over a period of about 50 years. By measuring movement of the ocean shoreline over a long period of time, the NC Division of Coastal Management is able to develop a more accurate representation of the net shoreline change, taking into account normal shoreline movement, beach nourishment and storms.

The state Division of Coastal Management uses long-term average annual erosion rates in determining setback distances for oceanfront construction. Setbacks are measured from the first line of stable natural vegetation. For structures of less than 5,000 square feet, the setback distance is determined by multiplying the average annual erosion rate by 30. For example, on a property where the erosion rate is three feet per year, the setback is 90 feet from the vegetation line. In areas that are naturally gaining sand or have an erosion rate of less than two feet per year, the setback distance is set at a minimum of 60 feet.

The setback factor for structures between 5,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet is 60 times the erosion rate. The setback factor increases incrementally with structure size, reaching a maximum setback of 90 times the erosion rate for structures 100,000 square feet and larger.

North Carolina first evaluated long-term average annual erosion rates for the state's 300-mile ocean shoreline in 1979. DCM evaluates these erosion rates about every five years to ten years. The last update went into effect in 2003. Maps of the proposed oceanfront erosion rates are on DCM's website at http://dcm2.enr.state.nc.us/maps/erosion_rates_2011.htm.

The proposed rule change would use the updated erosion rates for determining setback distances for oceanfront construction. If adopted by the CRC at its November meeting and approved by the state Rules Review Commission later this year, the updated erosion rates would become part of coastal development rules in early 2013.

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