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Coastal Zone Management: Using No-Build Areas to Protect the Shorefront

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The U.S. coast is susceptible to a number of natural processes that can threaten lives, property, the natural environment, and, ultimately, economies. The hazards posed by these processes are likely to be exacerbated as development and redevelopment continue along the coasts and as coastal populations rise. Risk is best reduced by limiting exposure to coastal hazards. While most land use decisions are made at the local level, states can play a role in directing development away from hazard-prone places along ocean and Great Lake shorefronts through their coastal management programs. This article reports on where coastal states and territories have established no-build areas along ocean and Great Lake shorefronts to prevent unsustainable development and protect public interests. Findings suggest that roughly 75% of states with federally approved coastal management programs employ shorefront no-build areas, but that the associated laws and regulations vary considerably due largely to differences in geographic and geologic situations, regulatory frameworks, shorefront property ownership, level of existing development, and dominant uses. Laws and regulations change over time to improve effectiveness and reflect better information and new challenges. Climate change is one of the challenges that already has states reevaluating how best to protect their shorefronts.
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Keywords: coastal hazards; coastal management; no-build areas; setbacks; shorefront

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: NOAA/OCRM/CPD, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Publication date: 2013-05-04

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