Environmental Panel Changes Could Affect Tyrrell County

Published 10:40 am Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tyrrell County could be affected by recent changes to state environmental panels.

The NC Coastal Resources Commission establishes policies and rules for coastal development within the 20 coastal counties, including Tyrrell, Washington and Hyde. The rules established by the CRC are the same for all 20 counties. Their rules cover specific types of development, including oceanfront construction, dredging, docks and piers, estuarine shoreline stabilization (bulkheads, riprap, etc.), marinas, and other issues.

 All members of the Coastal Resources Commission were appointed by the Governor in the past. Members served four-year terms, and terms are staggered such that they do not typically end all at once. Coastal cities and counties have the opportunity to make nominations for new members.

 “The changes made to the CRC by the budget bill have changed the appointment process. The commission has been reduced from 15 members to 13.  Two appointments will be made by the Speaker of the House, two by the Senate President Pro Tem and the remainder will be appointed by the governor,” said Michelle Walker, Public Information Officer for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.

Four current members of the commission will remain on the CRC until June 30, 2014. They are Bob Emory, Renee Cahoon, Lee Wynns, and Ben ‘Jamin’ Simmons. The remainder of the commissioners’ terms will expire today (July 31), and new appointments will be made by the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tem and Governor, as set forth in the legislation. Coastal cities and counties will still have the opportunity to nominate qualified individuals.

“It is hard to say what might change in the future. As you know, North Carolina’s coastline is constantly changing – whether from erosion, storms, or other factors. It’s the job of the CRC to balance the protection of the state’s coastal environment with the human desire for development. The commission and the Division of Coastal Management continuously reviews CRC rules and policies to ensure they are current and up-to-date with changing coastal conditions, while also ensuring we are assisting property owners with responsible development,” said Walker

The Environmental Management Commission is responsible for adopting rules for the protection, preservation and enhancement of the state’s air and water resources. The commission oversees and adopts rules that affect several divisions including the divisions of Air Quality; Water Quality; Water Resources; and Energy, Mineral and Land Quality.

 Environmental protection changes across the state to the degree that land formations, soil types, and aquatic animals differ. Protections for the mainstem of the Catawba River are similar to the protections found in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers because they are all affected by excess nutrients. Coastal storm-water rules are designed to protect commercial shellfish areas from contamination.

“That is pretty much a coastal activity. In the western part of the state, streams classified for trout carry certain protective requirements through the sediment and erosion control program in Land Resources because trout require cool, clear waters. Protections from sediment exist for other streams statewide but the preferred manner of implementation may be somewhat different based on soils and other parameters.

Not sure if there are regional differences for air quality but believe there may be depending on industrial discharge contributions. I believe there are federal regulations that kick in for more highly developed industrial areas,” said Susan Massengale, Public Information Officer for the NC Division of Water Quality.