How are coastal areas regulated by the CEHA Permit Program?
The Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) Permit Program provides written approval of regulated activities or land disturbance to properties within the coastal erosion hazard areas within DEC's jurisdiction. The program also assists certified communities to administer and enforce local programs.
This program was initiated from the Title 4, Chapter 7 of the Unconsolidated Laws of New York, "Projects to Prevent Shore Erosion", enacted in 1945.
The Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas Law (Environmental Conservation Law Article 34) empowers DEC to identify and map coastal erosion hazard areas and to adopt regulations (6 NYCRR Part 505) to control certain activities and development in those areas. The backbone of these regulations is a permitting system aimed specifically at all regulated activities or land disturbance within the coastal erosion hazard areas.
The construction or placement of a structure, or any action or use of land which materially alters the condition of land, including grading, excavating, dumping, mining, dredging, filling or any disturbance of soil is a regulated activity requiring a Coastal Erosion Management Permit. The permit provides written approval granted by DEC or a local government, whichever has the jurisdiction.
Coastal Erosion Management Regulations are being updated
DEC is reviewing and updating Part 505 regulations to make it easier for people to understand and comply with the regulations. This will include outreach to stakeholders and a public comment period.
Who has jurisdiction for CEHA?
There are 86 coastal communities in NYS that currently fall under CEHA jurisdiction. The law allows local communities to administer their own CEHA program. 42 communities have been certified by DEC and have their own coastal erosion hazard area law. The other 44 communities are managed by DEC.
If you live in a certified community you need to contact your local building or zoning department to learn how to submit the appropriate coastal erosion permit application before construction starts and to obtain any other permits required by your community's local ordinances.
DEC may require other permits for the type or location of activity you are planning. Other agencies (Army Corps of Engineers, Department of State, Office of General Services) also have jurisdiction within coastal erosion hazard areas, depending on the location and type of activity planned.
What is a coastal erosion hazard area?
There are two types of coastal erosion hazard areas: natural protection feature areas (NPFA) and structural hazard areas (SHA).
Natural protective feature areas (NPFA) are areas that contain the following natural features: beaches, dunes, bluffs, and nearshore areas. NPFAs protect natural habitats, infrastructure, structures, and human life from wind and water erosion, along with storm induced high water. Human activities (for example, development or modification of beaches, dunes, or bluffs) may decrease, or completely remove the erosion buffering function of natural protective features.
Structural hazard areas (SHA) are lands located landward of natural protective feature areas (NFPA) and have shorelines receding at a long-term average annual recession rate of 1 foot or more per year. Development within structural hazard areas is limited [by the regulation] to reduce the risk to people and property from coastal erosion and flood damage.
How do I find out if my property is within a coastal erosion hazard area?
Coastal erosion hazard areas are prone to coastal erosion and have been identified and mapped. The Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) maps delineate the boundaries of erosion hazard areas that are subject to regulation 6 NYCRR Part 505. These maps are issued by the DEC commissioner. Mapped areas currently include the shorelines of Lakes Erie and Ontario, the entire coastline of Long Island, and the Atlantic Ocean coastline of New York City.
If you would like to get an existing map to see if your property is within the coastal erosion hazard area, please contact Sue McCormick or Matt Chlebus at 518-402-8185. Maps are also available at Regional DEC offices and at local building departments of certified communities.
How are these areas designated or mapped?
Natural protective feature areas (NPFA) are mapped by first identifying the most landward natural protective feature (beach, dune, or bluff) using aerial/satellite imagery, LiDAR, and field inspections. The following distances are then used to determine the landward limit of the NPFA.
- Dunes: 25 feet from the landward toe of the dune
- Bluffs: 25 feet from the peak of the bluff
- Beaches: 100 feet landward from the line of permanent vegetation.
Structural hazard areas are those areas located landward of the NPFA, and having shorelines receding at a long-term average annual recession rate of 1 foot or more per year. The inland boundary of a structural hazard area is calculated by starting at the landward limit of the NPFA, and measuring along a line which is perpendicular to the shoreline horizontally landward. This distance is determined by multiplying the long-term average annual recession rate by 40.
CEHA maps are currently being updated
The maps that are currently available were created in the late 1980's. The maps will be updated starting in Fall 2012. This process involves: re-evaluating the currently mapped coastline to determine any changes that have occurred in the natural protective features, comparing historical imagery to current imagery to determine long term shoreline recession rates, and updating the location of both the NPFA and SHA lines.
The areas of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, Long Island Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean will all have their maps updated within the next two years. Public hearings will be scheduled for public comment in each area that is re-mapped.
What if I disagree with the mapping of my property?
Any person who owns real property within a designated coastal erosion hazard area may appeal that designation. To make an appeal a Coastal Erosion Hazard Area Designation Appeal Application (PDF, 190 KB) must be completed and submitted it to the department. Appeal applications are also available at DEC regional offices and the Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety at the central office in Albany at 518-402-8185.
Appeal applications are not complete until the applicant provides all necessary information. The commissioner will decide such appeal within 30 days after receipt of a complete appeal application and, if necessary, will adjust the coastal erosion hazard area boundaries accordingly.
The only acceptable basis for a coastal erosion hazard area designation appeal is either:
(1) the long-term average annual rate of shoreline recession was incorrectly established; or
(2) the area was erroneously identified as a natural protective feature area or its NPFA was incorrectly identified
How do I apply for a permit?
If you are planning a regulated activity within a designated coastal erosion hazard area you need to first obtain a coastal erosion management permit.