*FEATURED* Unified Development Ordinance

CAMA Permit Program

The Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) program manages development in coastal areas by requiring permits for development in Areas of Environmental Concern (AECs). AECs are coastal areas that contain natural hazards or important environmental, economic, or cultural resources. Development is defined as any type of construction, associated land clearing, or land alteration.

Your project is probably in an AEC and will require a CAMA minor permit if it meets one or more of the following: 

  • In or on the waters of the state, on a marsh or wetland area
  • Within 75 feet of the normal high water line along estuarine shoreline
  • Within 30 feet of the normal water level of areas designated as inland fishing waters by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission
  • Within 575 feet of the mean high water line along the shoreline of an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW), as designated by the Environmental Management Commission
  • Within about 300 feet of the ocean beach
  • Within about 1,000 feet of an inlet

Note: Projects requiring additional state or federal approvals may require a CAMA major permit. You may contact your local permit officer at  910-798-7116 if you are unsure if your project constitutes major or minor development.

Guide for a Complete CAMA Minor Permit Application:

  • Obtain a permit application from the NC Division of Coastal Management website or from the New Hanover County Zoning Division. The application must be completed, signed, and dated by the applicant or agent.
  • Include a site drawing that shows the dimensions and characteristics of the property, as well as the location and nature of the project. The permit application form lists specific information that must appear on the site drawing. The local permit officer can give suggestions on how to prepare the drawing and where to get the necessary information.
  • Include a survey of the property
  • Provide a statement of property ownership
  • Provide a list of adjacent riparian (waterfront) property owners and their addresses
    • The adjacent property owners must be notified of your project either in person or by mail. Failure to notify adjacent property owners is grounds for revoking the permit.
  • Provide a signed statement allowing the local permit officer to enter the property
  • Pay the $100 processing fee

Note: An AEC Hazard Notice must be obtained from the local permit officer if your project is located in an Ocean Hazard AEC.


What happens after an application is received?

The application review begins after the local permit officer (LPO) receives all of the application materials. The LPO will visit the project site, determine if the project meets the Coastal Resource Commissions (CRC) standards for development, and determine if the project complies with the local land-use plan and local development ordinances.

CAMA requires the permit decision to be made within 25 days. However, the local permit officer may send the applicant a notice, sent by registered or certified mail, extending the review time for an additional 25 days.

The permit will be issued if the project complies with the CRC’s development standards, as well as the local land-use plan and local development ordinances. The applicant is responsible for meeting all requirements and conditions of the permit. Any conditions will be listed on the permit.

After the LPO makes a decision, the applicant will be sent an official CAMA permit decision by registered or certified mail. If the applicant is issued a permit, they must sign the form and return it to the LPO within 20 days. Typically, minor permits expire on December 31 of the third year following the year of permit issuance.

For more information, contact the Wilmington office of the Division of Coastal Management at 910-796-7215.

Projects requiring other state or federal approvals may require a CAMA major permit. You may contact your local permit officer at 910-798-7116 if you are unsure if your project constitutes major or minor development.

CAMA major permits can be found on the NC Division of Coastal Management website.

Planning and Land Use: 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053