New rules to ease sandbag restrictions
By MARK HIBBS
Coastal Federation Online
new rules will make it easier for beachfront land owners to build
sandbag walls and leave them in place for longer periods.
Members of the state panel directed by the N.C. General Assembly to
create the rules expressed fears this week that the new, looser
restrictions could result in hardened beaches along the entire North
N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, which met this week in Atlantic
Beach, began work mandated by a bill that the legislature passed this
summer to come up with a set of new temporary state rules for sandbag
walls meant to control beach erosion. The commission also voted to set
Dec. 10 as the date for a public hearing on the proposed rules.
The meeting will be held in Morehead City. The public will have
opportunity to comment on the temporary rules Dec. 1-22.
the temporary rules are adopted in February, they will become effective
March 4. Then the commission will have 270 days in which to consider
and adopt permanent rules that include the legislature’s mandated
provisions that appeared to trouble members of the commission.
think we’re stuck with these emergency rules until we can do something
different and we can’t do something different real fast,” CRC Chairman
Frank Gorham said.
are currently allowed with the proper permit to protect imminently
threatened oceanfront buildings only on a temporary basis because, if
left in place, they cause the same damage to beaches as seawalls. The
new rules, which are expected to be adopted during the commission’s
February 2016 meeting, would allow them to stay for longer periods.
legislature is making it very difficult to get rid of sandbags,” Gorham
said just before he asked for a motion to approve the temporary rules
mandated in the state budget bill passed in September.
state budget includes a provision that requires the commission to
change sandbag rules to allow them on beachfront property that is
experiencing erosion even if no buildings are in immediate
danger. The only requirement is that sandbags have been built on
current rules sandbag walls aren’t allowed to extend more than 20 feet
past the sides of a protected structure. The new rules delete the
20-foot limit and allow the placement of contiguous sandbag walls from
one shoreline boundary of a property to the other shoreline boundary,
regardless of proximity to a building.
drafting the new rules, Division of Coastal Management staff added
language intended to prevent “oceanward creep” of the sandbags, said
Mike Lopazanski, manager of policy analysis with the agency.
idea is to keep these off the middle of the beach as much as possible,”
Lopazanski told commission members. “Because without an imminently
threatened structure to go by in terms of the oceanward distance, it
becomes somewhat of an implementation problem in terms of where on the
beach to site that structure.”
new rules give greater leeway for property owners with sandbags covered
under multiple permits. The termination date of all permits on the same
property will now be the latest termination date for any of the permits.
sandbag structures that were legally placed but have expired permits
may be replaced, repaired or modified, if the status of the permit is
being litigated by the property owner in state or federal court,
according to the new rules.
permits are, depending on where you’re at, good for up to eight years,”
Lopazanski explained. “The way the current rules state, the termination
date for the entire structure is based on the date that you’re
permitted to place that first sandbag.”
Now, the termination date will be dictated by the placement of the last sandbag. “You reset the clock,” Lopazanski said.
members expressed concerns that the new rules would lead to great
expansion of sandbag walls, all along the beach and wrapping around
inlet shores, and whether that was the General Assembly’s intent.
Members asked whether the commission could make its own revisions,
including changes based on public comments that may be contrary to the
legislative directive, before adopting the rules in permanent form.
answer was no, according to a representative from the attorney
general’s office on the panel. The commission, as the legislature’s
appointed body, must make rules that are consistent with the
New State Budget and the Environment
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