Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA)

In 1974, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) which guides development in areas that border the North Carolina's sounds and oceanfront. The General Assembly directed the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) to implement clear regulations that minimize the burden on the applicant.

The Division of Coastal Management (DCM), under the authority of the CRC, is responsible for enforcing those regulations, as well as processing CAMA Major Permits and CAMA General Permits.

CAMA Minor Permit Program

The CAMA Minor Permit Program is administered in Morehead City through the Morehead City Planning and Inspections Department.

CAMA Minor Permits are generally required for all development within the designated Areas of Environmental Concern (AEC). The following questions can help determine whether a CAMA Minor Permit is required:

  • Is the proposed project considered development? General Statute 113A-103(5)(a), states: "Development means any activity in a duly designated Area of Environmental concern involving, requiring, or consisting of the construction or enlargement of a structure; excavation; dredging; filling; dumping; removal of clay, silt, gravel, or minerals; bulkheading; driving of pilings; clearing or alteration of land as an adjunct of construction; alteration or removal of sand dunes; alteration of the shore, bank, or bottom of the Atlantic Ocean or any sound, bay, river, creek, stream, lake, or canal."
  • Is the proposed development in an Area of Environmental Concern (AEC)? Estuarine Shoreline AECs are those non-ocean shorelines extending from normal high water (NHW) or normal water level (NWL) along the estuarine waters, estuaries, sounds, bays, fresh and brackish waters, and public trust areas as set forth in an agreement adopted by the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a distance of 75 feet landward.
  • Does the proposed project constitute major or minor development? Minor permits are processed through the Planning and Inspections Department; however, Major Permits must be processed through the Division of Coastal Management Office located at:
    400 Commerce Avenue
    Morehead City, NC 28557

    Contact 252-808-2808 for additional information concerning major development projects.

CAMA Major Permits

  • A Major Permit is required when a project meets the following criteria:
    • Occupies 20 acres of AEC.
    • Has a structure(s) in excess of 60,000 square feet of ground area on a single parcel of land in an AEC.
    • Requires licensing, approval, certification, or authorization from the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission, the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the North Carolina Department of Administration, the North Carolina Mining Commission, the North Carolina Pesticides Board, the North Carolina Sedimentation Control Board, or any Federal agency or authority.

Additional Information

For more information about the CAMA Minor Permit Process, to determine if a CAMA Permit is required for your project, or to obtain a CAMA Minor Permit Application, please contact our office and ask to speak with a CAMA Local Permit Officer (LPO).