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Coastal Erosion Management Permits: Regulated Activities and Uses

What is restricted, prohibited, or requires a permit?

Restrictions for activities and uses within the various Natural Protective Feature Areas and the Structural Hazard Areas are summarized in the table below. For full descriptions and details for activities that are restricted, prohibited or require a permit, read Section 505.8.

If you live in a certified community contact your local building or zoning department to determine if your activities require a Coastal Erosion Management Permit. In rare occasions local laws and ordinances differ from DEC regulations.

A Coastal Erosion Management Permit will be issued only if DEC finds the proposed regulated activity meets the following general standards:

  • The proposed regulated activity is reasonable and necessary, considering reasonable alternatives to the proposed activity and the extent to which the proposed activity requires a shoreline location
  • The proposed regulated activity will not be likely to cause a measurable increase in erosion at the proposed site or at other locations
  • The proposed regulated activity prevents, if possible, or minimizes adverse effects on:
    • Natural protective features and their functions and protective values as described in section 6 NYCRR Part 505.3
    • Existing erosion protection structures
    • Natural resources, including, but not limited to significant fish and wildlife habitats and shellfish beds.

All development is prohibited in Natural Protective Feature Areas and Structural Hazard Areas unless specifically allowed in the tables below, or is specifically listed in the unregulated activities table.

Regulated Activities within Nearshore Areas
Activities/Uses Regulation
Excavating, grading, mining, or dredging which diminishes the erosion protection afforded by nearshore areas. Prohibited
Coastal erosion management permits for dredging may be issued for constructing or maintaining navigation channels, bypassing sand around natural and man-made obstructions, or artificial beach nourishment. Permit Required
Any deposition will require a coastal erosion management permit. Clean sand or gravel of an equivalent or slightly larger grain size is the only material which may be deposited within nearshore. Permit Required
New construction, modification, or restoration of docks, piers, wharves, groins, jetties, seawalls, bulkheads, breakwaters, revetments and artificial beach nourishment. Docks, piers, wharves or structures built on floats, columns, open timber, piles, or similar open-work supports having a top surface area of 200 square feet or less, or docks, piers, wharves, or other structures built on floats and removed in the fall of each year, are excepted from this permit requirement. Permit Required
Regulated Activities within Beaches
Activities/Uses Regulation
Excavating, grading, or mining which diminishes the erosion protection afforded by beaches is prohibited. Prohibited
Non-major additions* to existing structures may be allowed on beaches pursuant to a coastal erosion management permit. Permit Required
Deposition of material on beaches will be issued only for expansion or stabilization of beaches; clean sand, or gravel of an equivalent or slightly larger grain size, must be used. Permit Required
The following restrictions apply to the use of motor vehicles on beaches:
  • Motor vehicles must operate seaward of the upper debris lines at all times. On those beaches where no debris line exists, motor vehicles must operate seaward of the toe of the primary dune
  • Motor vehicles must not travel on vegetation.
Restrictions
New construction, modification, or restoration of docks, piers, wharves, groins, jetties, seawalls, bulkheads, breakwaters, revetments and artificial beach nourishment. Docks, piers, wharves or structures built on floats, columns, open timber, piles, or similar open-work supports having a top surface area of 200 square feet or less, or docks, piers, wharves, or other structures built on floats and removed in the fall of each year, are excepted from this permit requirement. Permit Required
Active bird nesting and breeding areas must not be disturbed unless such disturbance is pursuant to a specific wildlife management activity approved in writing by DEC. Permit Required


Regulated Activities within Dunes
Activities/Uses Regulation
Excavating, grading, or mining of dunes. Prohibited
Clean sand obtained from excavation, dredging, or beach grading may be deposited on a primary dune, or on an area formerly a primary dune, to increase its size or restore it. Such deposition must be vegetatively stabilized using native species tolerant to salt spray and sand burial, e.g., American beach grass. Permit Required
New construction, modification, or restoration of stone revetments or other erosion-protection structures compatible with primary dunes. Such erosion protection structures will only be allowed at the seaward toe of primary dunes and must not interfere with the exchange of sand between primary dunes and their fronting beaches. Permit Required
New construction, modification or restoration of elevated walkways or stairways. Elevated walkways or stairways constructed solely for pedestrian use and built by or for an individual property owner for the limited purpose of providing noncommercial access to the beach are excepted from this permit requirement. Permit Required
Non-major additions* to existing structures are allowed on primary dunes pursuant to a coastal erosion management permit and subject to permit conditions concerning the location, design, and potential impacts of the structure on the primary dune. Permit Required
Vehicular traffic is prohibited on dunes expect in those areas designated by DEC for dune crossing. Prohibited
Active bird nesting and breeding areas must not be disturbed unless such disturbance is pursuant to a specific wildlife management activity approved in writing by DEC. Permit Required
Foot traffic which causes sufficient damage to primary dunes to diminish the erosion protection afforded by them is prohibited. Pedestrian passage across primary dunes must utilize elevated walkways and stairways, or other specially designed dune-crossing structures approved by DEC. Restrictions


Regulated Activities within Bluffs
Activities/Uses Regulation
Excavating, grading or mining of bluffs is prohibited, except where: Prohibited
  • The minor alteration of a bluff is done in accordance with conditions stated in a coastal erosion management permit issued for the construction of an erosion protection structure.
  • A bluff cut is made in a direction perpendicular to the shoreline to provide shoreline access. The ramp slope of bluff cuts must not be steeper than 1:6 and the side slopes must not be steeper than 1:3, if not terraced or otherwise structurally stabilized. Side slopes and other disturbed non-roadway areas must be stabilized with vegetation or other approved physical means, and completed roadways must be stabilized and drainage provided for, all in accordance with terms and conditions of a coastal erosion management permit.
Permit Required
Vehicular traffic is prohibited on bluffs. Prohibited
Non-major additions* to existing structures may be allowed on bluffs pursuant to a coastal erosion management permit. Permit Required
New construction, modification, or restoration of erosion protection structures, walkways, or stairways. Elevated walkways or stairways constructed solely for pedestrian use and built by or for an individual property owner for the limited purpose of providing non-commercial access to the beach are excepted from this permit requirement. Permit Required
Any grading, excavating, or other soil disturbance conducted on a bluff must not direct surface water runoff over a bluff face. Prohibited
Active bird nesting and breeding areas must not be disturbed unless such disturbance is pursuant to a specific wildlife management activity approved in writing by DEC. Permit Required


Regulated Activities within Structural Hazard Areas
Activities/Uses Regulation

Movable structures may be constructed or placed within a structural hazard area only if a coastal erosion management permit has been granted. Coastal erosion management permit requirements include the following:

  • No permanent foundation is attached to the movable structure and any temporary foundations are removed at the time the structure is moved. Below-grade footings will be allowed if satisfactory provision is made for their removal.
  • No movable structure may be placed closer to the landward limit of a bluff than 25 feet.
  • No movable structure may be placed or constructed so that, according to accepted engineering practice, its weight places an excessive ground loading on a bluff.
  • A plan for the landward relocation of a movable structure, when threatened by shoreline recession, must be included with each coastal erosion management permit application.
  • Movable structures, which have been located within an erosion hazard area pursuant to a coastal erosion management permit, must be removed before the receding edge recedes to within 10 feet of the most seaward point of the movable structure.
  • Debris from structural damage which may occur as a result of sudden, unanticipated bluff-edge failure or erosion must be removed within 60 days of the damaging event.
  • The last owner of record, as shown on the latest assessment roll, of real property upon which a movable structure is placed is responsible for removing that structure and its foundation, unless the last owner of record and the owner of the structure, if the structure is not owned by the last owner of record, have made an agreement providing otherwise in a form acceptable to DEC.
Permit Required
The construction or placement of a non-movable structure, or non-movable major addition to an existing structure, is prohibited within structural hazard areas. Prohibited
Non-major additions* to existing structures may be allowed in Structural Hazard Areas pursuant to a coastal erosion management permit. Permit Required
A coastal erosion management permit is required for the installation of public service distribution, transmission or collection systems for gas, electricity, water or wastewater. Systems installed to serve coastline development along mainland shorelines must be located landward of the shoreline structures being served. Permit Required
Any grading, excavating, or other soil disturbance conducted within a structural hazard area must not direct surface water runoff over a bluff face. Prohibited

*Non-major addition is defined as an addition which results in an increase in the existing ground area coverage of a structure that is less than 25 percent, with the exceptions of an erosion protection structure, pier, dock or wharf. The increase will be calculated as the ground area coverage to be added, including any additions previously constructed under a coastal erosion management permit, divided by the ground area coverage of the existing structure.


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