Town News: Important Inlet Hazard Area Changes

The Coastal Resources Commission is in the process of developing new rules that have the potential to greatly impact several hundred lots at Holden Beach. Please review the information below for an executive summary prepared by the Business Alliance for a Sound Economy (NCBASE) complete with details of the rules, dates/times of public hearings, maps of properties affected  and contact information for those needing to receive feedback on the proposed changes. 
Please take the time to review, attend the hearings if possible and provide your comments/concerns.
Information from NCBASE:
The NC Division of Coastal Management is holding public hearings and accepting feedback regarding the proposed changes to the Inlet Hazard Areas (IHA). The proposal put forth will 1) greatly expand inlet hazard areas as well as 2) significantly change in the way that setbacks are measured in these areas. If approved by the Coastal Resources Commission, this proposal will impact thousands of acres of coastal land and thousands of parcels and structures in our region.
The proposed rules can be found in the attached document (click here) on pages 16. On pages 6 – 7, you can see the breakdown (structure, acres) by community.
Here are some additional links to resources related to the IHA update:

Please review the new maps and new rules. Then make plans to attend the public hearings and make your voice heard.
Public Hearings and Comment Period:Public hearings start on December 17, 2019 in Brunswick County and will be held in a number of coastal locations through mid-January. The full schedule is at the end of this document. Written comments, questions and feedback will also be accepted. Provide written comments, questions and feedback via  email to DCM Director Braxton Davis (braxton.davis@ncdenr.gov) and/or Ken Richardson (ken.richardson@ncdenr.gov).
Comments will be accepted through January 31, 2020. Depending on breadth of comments, the issue could go to the Coastal Resources Commission at the February 2020 meeting and have an implementation date of April or May 2020.
Background:The IHA zones and rules have remained relatively unchanged since 1981. In 2010, the Coastal Resources Commission did propose a rule change to refine the IHA boundaries, but that proposal was not carried forward.  In part, this was due to concerns about what changes would be made to the development standards within the newly refined IHAs in light of the increased size of the proposed IHAs.  
Since setting aside the proposed rule changes in 2010, the CRC has further studied the IHAs and now proposes new IHA boundaries and revised rule language.
Over the same period, the state of North Carolina and individual communities have continued to proactively advance coastal management strategies including the creation of a shallow draft inlet fund, the permitting of terminal groins and investment in continued coastal storm damage reduction projects to enhance our coastal infrastructure.
Concerns:

  • The impacts of the expanded Inlet Hazard Areas and revised setback calculations will be widespread and significant.
    • Has DCM notified property owners that will be in the expanded Inlet Hazard Area?
    • Has DCM notified property owners in the current Inlet Hazard Area that the setback factors are changing?
  • The Proposed IHA Rule Changes and new setback calculations could result in a taking of private property if they completely prevent development of a parcel. For example, if a lot is 150′ deep and its setback goes from 60′ to 240′-it is unbuildable.

The Proposed IHA Rule Changes may increase the CRC’s exposure to takings claims. Such claims may arise because the Proposed IHA Rule Changes and setbacks would prohibit development within areas in which development is not currently prohibited.  They may also arise where property owners who acquired or held their property with the expectation of being able to develop at a certain intensity are not satisfied with the limited development potential that the Proposed IHA Rule Changes would permit in protected IHAs

  • The grandfathering provisions need to be expanded. The grandfathering protection the CRC Memo says would apply to all lots under 15,000 sq.ft. is not actually included in the Proposed IHA Rule Changes.   

The CRC Memo states that the Proposed IHA Rule Changes include provisions to grandfather all existing structures within the new IHAs as well as all lots under 15,000 square feet, platted after July 23, 1984 or before the effective date of the Proposed IHA Rule Changes, with respect to density restrictions.  However, there is no language in the Proposed IHA Rule Changes that expressly grandfathers such lots.

  • The cumulative effect of the Proposed IHA Rule Changes is to make an additional 1,819.7 acres of coastal land subject to development restrictions-in addition to expanding restrictions on existing parcels in the IHA. This will impact property values in a range of affected communities.
  • The Proposed IHA Rule Changes imply a causal connection between the size of a structure, the number of units in a structure, and the size of a lot and the risk of erosion, flooding, and other adverse effects of sand, wind and water associated with dynamic ocean inlets.  It is unclear, however, how the size of a home, the number of units, or size of a lot has any causal relationship to the risk of realizing hazards associated with dynamic ocean inlets.  
  • The revised rules will negatively impact property values and complicate potential sales and financing as a result of the “new” nonconforming status of the structures and parcels identified in the CRC Memo. To help alleviate the concern about making existing structures nonconforming, CRC could include a provision in the Proposed IHA Rule Changes that would allow for reconstruction of nonconforming structures and structures on nonconforming lots without the need to come into compliance with current rules.  
    • Table 3 of the CRC Memo shows that, under the Proposed IHA Rule Changes, the number of lots within IHAs that do not meet the 15,000 square feet minimum lot size requirement more than doubles, from 894 lots to 1,805 lots.
    • Similarly, Table 2 of the CRC Memo shows that, overall, the Proposed IHA Rule Changes would increase the number of structures with heated area greater than 5,000 square feet within or intersecting IHA boundaries  from 24 to 41.  Under the Proposed IHA Rule Changes, all such structures would be non-conforming with respect to the proposed maximum floor area allowance.

Public Hearing Schedule Inlet Hazard Area Update 
Brunswick County December 17, 2019 10:00 a.m.  Brunswick County Government Complex 30 Government Center Drive, NE Bolivia, NC 28422  New Hanover County December 17, 2019 3:00 p.m.  New Hanover County Government Center 230 Government Center Drive Wilmington, NC 28403  Onslow County December 18, 2019 10:00 a.m.  Sneads Ferry Library 1330 Highway 210 Sneads Ferry, NC 28460  Pender County December 18, 2019 3:00 p.m.  Assembly Building 720 Channel Blvd. Topsail Beach, NC 28445  Carteret County January 7, 2020 3:00 p.m.  NCDCM 400 Commerce Avenue Morehead City, NC 28557  Hyde County January 8, 2020 10:00 a.m. Community Center – Multipurpose Room 30 Oyster Creek Road Swan Quarter, NC 27885 **broadcast simultaneously to Ocracoke Island: Ocracoke Community Center 999 Irvin Garrish Highway Ocracoke, NC 27960  Dare County January 14, 2020 11:00 a.m.  Town of Nags Head Board of Commissioners Room 5401 S. Croatan Highway Nags Head, NC 27959

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