Ocean Sand Relocation

Why is a Sand Relocation Program Needed?

The Sand Relocation Program allows ocean-side properties to relocate accumulated sand back onto the dunes and the ocean beach.

One of the effects of a wide, dry sand beach combined with a windy coastal environment is the movement and accumulation of sand. Many of the Town’s oceanfront property owners have experienced this accumulation over the last several winters with sand collecting on walkways, decks, stairs, pools, and buildings.

Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) Permits

Work along the oceanfront typically requires a Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit. The Town has established a special program through CAMA to allow a simplified permit approval for the purpose of relocating sand back to the eastern face of the dune and/or beach. It is important to note that the purpose of this program is to allow sand removal only to the extent necessary to clear structures and site improvements. There will be specific limitations on how much sand can be moved and how much dune and vegetation disturbance can occur. Typically, the permit allows clearing six feet beyond structures.

Permit Conditions

While each project will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis due to the unique circumstances of each property, there are numerous standard conditions which will apply to all sand relocation projects. Those conditions include:

  • All activities shall be conducted Monday through Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Beach bulldozing operations are not permitted (sand can be moved over the dune to the beach but sand cannot be scraped from the beach to be placed on the dune).
  • Projects involving significant disturbance to the dune face may be required to plant beach grass or install sand fencing at the end of the project.
  • Sand shall not be placed within 30 feet of the normal water line.
  • While the project allows work to be conducted between November 15 and April 30, the Town will stop accepting sand relocation applications on or around April 15 to ensure sufficient time for contractors to complete the work and Town Staff to inspect and approve the work.
  • Work shall not exceed the lateral bounds of the property.

Permit Program Compliance

The Town is working diligently to develop a healthy beach and protective dune system and cannot authorize the removal of dunes or large areas of dune vegetation. Town staff will inspect all projects to ensure the work is in compliance with the approved permit. Deviations to the approved plan may involve corrective measures and/or fines so it is important to make sure the project stays within the scope of the permit approval. The Town has a vested interest in ensuring work on each property is done properly and accomplished with the least amount of impacts to the dune to the maximum extent practicable.

If you do not have a contractor and wish to obtain one, the Town will provide you with a list of contractors who have completed this workshop and are familiar with the requirements and expectations of a successful project.

The Dune Book

The Dune Book (PDF), a publication produced by NC Sea Grant includes useful information regarding beach grass planting, sand fence installation, and dune stabilization. The sand fence installation recommendations included in The Dune Book (PDF) are consistent with CAMA regulations for sand fence installation. The primary species of dune grass, American Beach Grass, is normally installed in the winter months prior to the end of March. If possible, property owners should plan to complete project work during this time frame to allow for adequate time to install dune plantings.