What is CAMA?
CAMA stands for the Coastal Area Management Act
, as passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1974. CAMA set the stage for guiding development in North Carolina’s sensitive coastal areas. Along with requiring special care by those who build and develop, the General Assembly directed the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) to implement clear regulations that minimize the burden on the applicant.
When is a CAMA permit required?
The Coastal Area Management Act requires permits for development in Areas of Environmental Concern (AEC). You must obtain a 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 established by the Coastal Resources Commission;
- it doesn't qualify for an exemption
Click here for the CAMA minor application
"Development" includes activities such as dredging or filling coastal wetlands or waters, and construction of marinas, piers, docks, bulkheads, oceanfront structures and roads.
What is an Area of Environmental Concern and how does it affect my project?
Areas of Environmental Concern are the foundation of the CRC's permitting program for coastal development.
An AEC is an area of natural importance: It may be easily destroyed by erosion or flooding; or it may have environmental, social, economic or aesthetic values that make it valuable to our state.
The CRC classifies areas as AECs to protect them from uncontrolled development, which may cause irreversible damage to property, public health or the environment. AECs cover almost all coastal waters and about 3 percent of the land in the 20 coastal counties.
The CRC has established four categories of AECs:
- The Estuarine and Ocean System;
- The Ocean Hazard System;
- Public Water Supplies;
Natural and Cultural Resource Areas.
If you're planning any sort of development -- from a sandbag structure to a bridge to a condominium -- in the coastal area, and your project is in an Area of Environmental Concern, you're probably going to need a CAMA permit. You'll also need to follow development rules specific to that AEC.
You're probably in an AEC if your project is:
- in or on navigable waters within the 20 CAMA counties;
- on a marsh or wetland;
- within 75 feet of the mean high water line along an estuarine shoreline;
- near the ocean beach;
- 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;
- near a public water supply.
If your project is in one of these areas, contact the Division of Coastal Management office nearest you.
What projects are exempt from CAMA permitting?
Section 103(5)(b) of the Coastal Area Management Act exempts the following activities from permitting requirements:
- road maintenance within a public right-of-way;
- utility maintenance on projects that already have CAMA permits;
- energy facilities covered by other laws or N.C. Utilities Commission rules;
- agricultural or forestry production that doesn't involve the excavation or filling of estuarine or navigable waters or coastal marshland (Note: these activities are not exempt from permitting requirements under the state's Dredge and Fill Law);
- agricultural or forestry ditches less than 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep;
- emergency maintenance and repairs when life and property are in danger;
- the construction of an accessory building usually found with an existing structure, if no filling of estuarine or navigable waters or coastal marshland is involved.
In addition, CAMA allows the Coastal Resources Commission to exempt some types of minor maintenance and improvements. These types of projects are those with successful track records in protecting the resources around them. In all cases, you should check with the Division of Coastal Management to make sure that your project qualifies for an exemption.
How do I apply for a CAMA permit?
Send the following items, by certified mail, to the adjoining property owners:
- A letter stating that you have applied for a CAMA permit and are required to notify them of your intended project.
- A copy of the drawing showing your project.
- A copy of your completed application.
Bring the following items to your Local CAMA Permit Officer:
- A $100 check payable to Pender County.
- The completed, signed application. Note: CAMA requires the use of an original form (printed on card stock), which you can obtain from the CAMA office.
- The drawing showing your project.
- Copies of the letters mailed to the adjoining property owners.
- The certified mail receipts from the post office showing you mailed letters to adjoining property owners.
- A copy of the property survey.
This process might take as long as 25 days from the date that we receive your complete application. An additional 25-day review period is provided by law when such time is necessary to complete the review. Under those circumstances, you will be notified of the need for an extended review period. If you have any questions about the application, your project drawing, or any other aspect of the North Carolina Coastal Area Management Act, visit the CAMA website
or contact the Local Permit Officer for Pender County at 910-259-1202.
What else do I need to know regarding my CAMA permit application?
All project drawings must be drawn to scale (example: 1"=20') and include the following information:
- Name and project address (title box).
- Property dimensions and names of adjacent property owners.
- Dimensions and location of all existing and proposed structures, driveways, and sewage disposal system, and improvements permit, if applicable.
- Location of any adjacent water body (example: Atlantic Ocean , AIWW, Bradley Creek).
- Label any marsh or wetland areas and include wetland delineation documentation from the Army Corps Of Engineers, if applicable.
If your property is in the Estuarine Shoreline AEC, your project drawings must include the following additional information:
- The dimensions of the footprint of your structure. The footprint is your roofline extended to the ground (outside walls + roof overhang).
- All decks shall be labeled either covered or open (all elevated decks with concrete below them at ground level are considered covered, whether or not they have a roof).
- Show the mean high water contour (MHW) and an AEC line located 75 feet landward of MHW, or 575 feet, if adjacent to Outstanding Resource Waters.