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May 11, 2015

RALEIGH – The state Division of Coastal Management will hold public hearings in North Carolina’s oceanfront counties to gather comments on a proposal to repeal the high hazard flood area of Environmental Concern, or AEC.

The hearings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

  • May 12, 3 p.m. – Oak Island Town Hall, 4601 E. Oak Island Dr., Oak Island
  • May 12, 7 p.m. – New Hanover County Government Center, 230 Government Center Dr., Wilmington
  • May 14, 3 p.m. – Surf City Town Hall, 214 N. New River Dr., Surf City
  • May 14, 5 p.m. – Onslow County Public Library, 1330 Highway 210, Sneads Ferry
  • May 19, 1 p.m. – Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, 822 Irvin Garrish Hwy, Ocracoke

The High Hazard Flood AEC covers lands subject to flooding, high waves and heavy water currents during a major storm. These are the lands identified as coastal flood with velocity hazard, or “V zones,” on flood insurance rate maps prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Single-family residences located in the AEC are currently exempted from Coastal Area Management Act permit requirements provided that they are not also located within another AEC, are constructed on pilings, and comply with both the N.C. building code and national and local flood damage prevention ordinances. Property owners in this AEC are required to sign a “hazard notice” acknowledging that special risks are associated with development in the area and pay a $50 fee for an exemption letter.

The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission is proposing to repeal the High Hazard Flood AEC because its current rules parallel the N.C. building code and national and local flood prevention standards, making the CRC standards no longer necessary.

The High Hazard Flood AEC is part of the state’s Ocean Hazard System. Areas of environmental concern are designated by the commission and are defined by the Coastal Area Management Act as areas of natural importance that may be susceptible to erosion or flooding; or may haveenvironmental, social, economic, or aesthetic values that make it valuable to the state. The CRC classifies areas as AECs to protect them fromincompatible development that 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.

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