Protecting the Public Interest through the National Coastal Zone Management Program: How Coastal States and Territories Use No-Build Areas along Ocean and Great Lake Shorefronts

This report provides an overview of policy options for limiting new construction in vulnerable coastal areas, and a summary of existing laws and regulations in states with federally approved coastal management programs (CMPs). To better understand and communicate how state CMPs manage ocean and Great Lake shorefront development, NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) (now a part of the Office for Coastal Management) conducted this study to look specifically at where states are employing shorefront strategies to protect the public interest and natural resources.  

Policy options include shorefront no-build areas, shoreline setbacks, rolling easements, and general zoning law. Of the 33 states with federally approved CMPs, 31 play some role in regulating shorefront development on dry land. These states do so to protect life, property, and natural resources and to preserve and maintain public access to the shore. These laws and regulations also often serve multiple functions, including land use objectives unrelated to coastal hazards. 

The report reviews several policy approaches, identifying the states that have adopted them with maps and descriptions.  It then provides an overview of the regulatory apparatus and legal authorities in each state and territory that regulates no-build areas along their ocean and Great Lakes shorefronts. At the end of the report, appendices provide summary tables of state policies and links to laws and regulations in each state.  Another appendix provides the address, phone and email contact information for a personal contact for every state agency responsible for shoreline regulations.

The   CoastCoastal               CoastCoastal Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP) is a voluntary partnership between the federal government and U.S. coastal and Great Lake states and territories authorized by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to address national coastal issues. NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), part of the National Ocean Service, administers the CZMP and provides national leadership, strategic direction, and guidance to state CMPs. 

Publication Date: May 2012

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