North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
NC Division of Coastal Management
NC Map

Oceanfront Shorelines & Setback: Interactive Mapping
Works best with Internet Explorer (IE)

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Shorelines & Setback Factors:

Current Setback Factors illustrate average rates of shoreline change over approximately 50 years. The information presented here is not predictive, nor does it reflect the short-term erosion that occurs during storms.The erosion rates depicted in these data have been adopted (January-2004) by the Coastal Resources Commission for incorporation into oceanfront setback rules. These data are used as factors in determining setback distances for oceanfront construction. Please contact your CAMA Local Permit Officer or the nearest regional field office of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management for more information..

Historic Shorelines:

These data represent historic oceanfront (1849 - present) and inlet (1930's - present) shorelines; and were digitized referencing a variety of sources (NOS-Topographic Sheets, LIDAR Mean High Water, and Photography Wet/Dry line).

Construction Setback Factors:

DCM now has digital versions of current and historic setback factors, and can be viewed using this web mapping application or downloaded for use in your GIS.
Construction setback is measured landward from the first line of "Stable-Natural" vegetation, or Static Vegetation line, whichever is applicable. Setback is based on size of structure and erosion rates.

Structure SizeSetback (ft)
less than 5,000 sqft60 feet or 30 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 5,000 sqft120 feet or 60 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 10,000 sqft130 feet or 65 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 20,000 sqft140 feet or 70 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 40,000 sqft150 feet or 75 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 60,000 sqft160 feet or 80 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 80,000 sqft170 feet or 85 times the erosion rate
greater than or equal to 100,000 sqft180 feet or 90 times the erosion rate

Building in accordance with setbacks doesn't guarantee that the ocean never will threaten your house. But it reduces your risk of property loss, it reduces the encroachment of development onto public beaches, and it can reduce the amount of tax money spent responding to problems that are exacerbated by poorly sited development.

Mapping Tool Instructions:

The interactive shoreline & setback mapping website is a tool that works best with Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). This site will allow you to interact with a map and explore DCM's oceanfront & estuarine shorelines and setback factor data. This version does not require any downloads; however, the first time you use this tool certain files and cookies will be stored on your computer. If a site update occurs (last update: 08/22/2012) you will need to delete temporary internet files and cookies from your computer, then refresh your internet browser to see these updates.

Before printing, please tune your popup blocker to allow popups while visiting this site.

Instructional Summary:
  • To zoom in: select a location from the dropdown lists or select the "Zoom In" tool, then click on the map with mouse cursor (or draw "zoom-box" with mouse cursor; click and hold left-mouse button, drag cursor in any direction, then release button).

  • Once you've zoomed in on the area of interest, you can retrieve additional information about a particular map layer by turning that layer on and making it "active." HELPFUL TIP: you can turn all map layers on at the same time, however, the map might become visually cluttered, making it difficult to distinguish certain features from others. Therefore, carefully limiting the number of layers drawn at any onetime is suggested.

  • The "Identify" tool will allow you to click on the "Active" map layer and see related information. HELPFUL TIP: Be sure the layer is turned on and in "Active" mode (click both white square and circle next to layer name); click the "Identify" tool (from toolbar on top of map); then click mouse cursor on top of map layer.

Questions / Comments:

Questions or comments about setback rules and/or policy?
Questions about Shorelines and Setback internet mapping tool? How do I use it? Report "bugs" or any technical concerns, or simply want to comment. Ken Richardson

More DCM Mapping tools/data:


N.C. Division of Coastal Management . 400 Commerce Ave . Morehead City, NC 28557
1-888-4RCOAST . Email Us