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  • Summary date: May 6 2024 - View Summary

    Enacts new GS 113-300 requiring the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) to designate coastal areas within the state that are used or likely to be used for sea turtle nesting, publish a map with the designated areas clearly marked on its website, and notify the governing board and inspection department of each county and municipality of the state that includes a designated area.

    Adds new Article 9H, Restrictions on Artificial Lighting to Protect Sea Turtles, in GS Chapter 143, providing as follows. Prohibits an artificial light from illuminating the oceanfront of any beach designated under new GS 113-300. Sets out requirements and restrictions on lighting for any building plans for new development or the remodeling of an existing structure when it includes the alteration of exterior lighting visible from the oceanfront beach, including that tinted glass, filmed glass, or shade screens be used on windows facing the oceanfront above the first floor of a multistory structure, and that floodlights are prohibited and wall-mounted lights must be fitted with hoods so that no light illuminates the beach or with turtle-friendly lighting. Defines turtle friendly lighting as a system or structure that emits only amber colored lights with a wavelength of no less than 560 nanometers. Also sets restrictions on temporary security lights at construction sites. Defines oceanfront as the illuminated portion of the lighting system or structure visible from any portion of the ocean beaches of the state that is to the ocean side of the dune line or, if there is no dune line, from any area within a line 25 feet to the landward side of the mean high tide mark. Requires giving violators five days’ notice to come into compliance; failure after that time results in a warning for a first offense, and a fine between $250-$500 for second and subsequent offenses. Provides that the Article is enforceable by any law enforcement office or local government code enforcement agent with jurisdiction over the property. Applies to building permits applied for on or after January 1, 2025.

    Enacts new GS 143-151.82 setting out requirements for oceanfront artificial lighting and for oceanfront lighting in parks or other publicly owned beach access areas.  Effective January 1, 2026.

    Appropriates $400,000 for 2024-25 to the WRC to be allocated in specified amounts for grant programs in areas designated by the WRC under new GS 113-300 for homeowners and builders for a cost-share for the cost of turtle-friendly lighting, and for law enforcement or local code enforcement agencies for enforcement and public education. Requires the WRC to report on the use of the grant funds to the specified NCGA committee and division annually beginning in 2025, until the funds have been encumbered. Specifies what is to be included in the report. Allows WRC to use 3% of the funds for administrative expenses. Requires WRC to adopt rules for eligibility requirements for the grants.

    Effective July 1, 2024.