Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Minor Permit Program

The New Hanover County Zoning Division administers the Minor Permit program under the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) on behalf of the State, in both the unincorporated County and City of Wilmington. The CAMA Minor Permit program involves issuance of permits for construction in and near the water; protection of dunes and marshes through construction standards; and investigation of violations. An important part of the program is managing development in the coastal area by requiring permits for development in Areas of Environmental Concern (AECs).

The program manages development in the coastal area 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 any type of construction, associated land clearing or land alteration.

Your project is probably in an AEC if it is:

  • 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; or
  • within about 1,000 feet of an inlet; or

A Major CAMA permit may be required for some projects, for example, for projects requiring other State or Federal approvals. You may contact your Local Permit Officer 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 Department of Coastal Management’s website or from the New Hanover County Zoning Division. All blanks on the application must be filled in, signed and dated by the applicant or agent
  • A site drawing that shows the dimensions and characteristics of the property and the location and nature of the project must accompany the application. 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
  • A statement of property ownership
  • 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. Failing to do this is grounds for revoking the permit
  • A signed statement allowing the local permit officer to enter the property
  • A $100 processing fee

*An AEC Hazard Notice must be completed 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) has received 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 see 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 you a notice extending the review time for an additional 25 days (the notice is sent by registered or certified mail).

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

After the LPO makes the 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. (910) 796-7215

230 Government Center Drive, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403
Planning & Land Use: Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053
Building Safety: Phone 910-798-7308 • Fax 910-798-7811
Engineering: Phone 910-798-7139 • Fax 910-798-7051