Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Public Invited to Comment on Draft Cape Fear River AEC Study

Public Invited to Comment on Draft Cape Fear River AEC Study
RALEIGH - The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, or CRC, has released a draft of the Cape Fear River Area of Environmental Concern Feasibility Study for public review and comment. In 2012, the N.C. General Assembly directed the CRC to consider the feasibility of creating a special management area that would include the lands adjacent to the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

Session Law 2012-202 requires the CRC to consider the unique coastal morphologies and hydrographic conditions of the Cape Fear River region. It also calls on the CRC to determine if action is necessary to preserve, protect, and balance the economic and natural resources of this region through the elimination of current overlapping Areas of Environmental Concern, or AECs, by incorporating appropriate development standards into a single AEC unique to this location. For the purposes of this study, the CRC was directed to consider a region that encompasses the Town of Caswell Beach, the Village of Bald Head Island and surrounding areas.

Since late 2012, the N.C. Division of Coastal Management has worked with the municipalities and nearby landowners to identify concerns with the existing regulatory framework and to discuss potential strategies for a new AEC. The draft report was compiled by staff with the Division of Coastal Management primarily from information provided by the Village of Bald Head Island, the town of Caswell Beach, and their consultants. The draft report provides background information regarding the study, describes the existing conditions at Bald Head Island and Caswell Beach, provides an overview of the existing regulatory framework, and presents the regulatory concerns of the stakeholders as well as their proposed strategies for a new Cape Fear River AEC. The report also includes appendices containing public meeting summaries and supporting information provided by the communities and their consultants.

This report is being distributed for public input and comment, and does not convey any official positions or findings of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or Coastal Resources Commission.

Areas of Environmental Concern are the foundation of the CRC’s permitting program for coastal development. An AEC is an area of natural importance that may be susceptible to erosion or flooding; or it may have environmental, social, economic or aesthetic values that make it valuable to the state. The CRC classifies areas as AECs to protect them from incompatible 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 report is available for download from DCM’s website at www.nccoastalmanagement.net.

Comments on the draft report may be sent to Mike Lopazanski, N.C. Division of Coastal Management, 400 Commerce Ave., Morehead City N.C. 28557, or via email to Mike.Lopazanski@ncdenr.gov. Comments must be receivedby Dec. 7, 2013.

All public comments will be presented to the CRC for consideration of the proposed AEC, and in a final report to the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. General Assembly.


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