CAMA Permitting

CAMA Minor Application
Applications for major permits.
PDF Version of Handbook for Printing 
You must obtain a Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, permit for your project if it meets all of the following conditions:
  • It is in one of the 20 counties covered by CAMA.
  • It is considered "development" under CAMA.
  • It is in, or it affects, an Area of Environmental Concern (AEC) established by the Coastal Resources Commission (CRC).
  • It doesn't qualify for an exemption. 


Turf/ Artificial Grass is NOT permitted in the 30ft. AEC buffer 

Does my project qualify as development?
The Coastal Area Management Act defines development as: "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, sand, gravel or minerals; bulk-heading; 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; or placement of a floating structure in an Area of Environmental Concern identified in G.S. 113A-113(b)(2) or (b)(5)" {NCGS 113A-103(5)(a)}.
Is my project in an Area of Environmental Concern?
You're probably in an AEC if your project is:
  • in, or on the shore of, navigable waters within the 20 CAMA counties;
  • on a marsh or wetland;
  • within 75 feet of the normal high water line along an estuarine shoreline;
  • near the ocean beach;
  • near an inlet;
  • within 30 feet of the normal high water level of areas designated as inland fishing waters by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission;
  • near a public water supply;
  • within 575 feet of Outstanding Resource Waters defined by the Environmental Management Commission.
Areas of Environmental Concern are described in detail in the next section of this manual. If you already know that your project is in an AEC and you want to go straight to the application information, turn to Section 5.
When is my project exempt from the CAMA permit requirements?
Section 103(5)(b) of CAMA exempts the following activities:
  • road maintenance within a public right-of-way;
  • utility maintenance on projects that already have CAMA permits;
  • energy facilities covered by other laws or N.C. Utilities Commission rules;
  • agricultural or forestry production that doesn't involve the excavation or filling of estuarine or navigable waters or coastal wetlands (Note: these activities are not exempt from permitting requirements under the state's Dredge and Fill Law.);
  • agricultural or forestry ditches less than 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep;
  • emergency maintenance and repairs when life and property are in danger;
  • the construction of an accessory building usually found with an existing structure, if no filling of estuarine or navigable waters or coastal wetlands is involved.


Minor permits are required for projects, such as single-family houses, that don't require major permits or general permits. They are reviewed, issued and administered to CRC standards by local governments under contract with the Division of Coastal Management. The minor permit program is part of the CRC's efforts to minimize the burden on permit applicants. Under CAMA regulations, a minor permit is to be issued within 25 days once a complete application is in hand. If the project is simple, the review process often is shorter. Click here to view the instructions and application. 
General permits are used for routine projects that usually pose little or no threat to the environment. General permits are issued on-site by DCM staff
Major permits are necessary for activities that require other state or federal permits, for projects that cover more than 20 acres or for construction covering more than 60,000 square feet. Applications for major permits are reviewed by 10 state and four federal agencies before a decision is made.