SUNSET BEACH — The state’s Coastal Resources Commission has granted a hearing requested by nonprofit groups seeking to challenge a permit issued for an oceanfront housing development in the area of a former inlet here.
The Sunset Beach Taxpayers Association Inc. and the North Carolina Coastal Federation, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, submitted the request earlier this month. The groups sought a third-party hearing on the Coastal Area Management Act major permit issued June 20. The permit was granted to Sunset Beach West, LLC for a 21-lot residential project at the west end of Sunset Beach. The project has been controversial, leading to a standoff between town officials and the developers and an unsuccessful move in the General Assembly to de-annex parts of town including the development site.
Renee Cahoon, the commission’s vice chair, granted the hearing Friday. The groups now have 20 days to file a petition for a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings in Raleigh.
The appeal was based on assertions that the development firm doesn’t own the land and that the permit is in violation of state rules and the town’s land-use plan. Cahoon granted the hearing based on the land-use plan issue, state rules regarding disturbing dunes within an ocean hazard area and allegations that the project and its associated private bridge would affect a adjacent estuary. Cahoon, however, denied the groups’ request for a hearing regarding ownership of the land, which is expected to be contested in court.
Under CAMA rules, a third party may file a contested case hearing petition in certain cases, such as when a permit is issued contrary to state laws or rules or when the third party is affected by the decision.