130A-309.203. Expedited permit review.

(a) The Department shall act as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than the deadlines established under subsection (b) of this section, except in compliance with subsection (c) of this section, to issue all permits necessary to conduct activities required by this Part.

(b) Notwithstanding G.S. 130A-295.8(e), the Department shall determine whether an application for any permit necessary to conduct activities required by this Part is complete within 30 days after the Department receives the application for the permit. A determination of completeness means that the application includes all required components but does not mean that the required components provide all of the information that is required for the Department to make a decision on the application. If the Department determines that an application is not complete, the Department shall notify the applicant of the components needed to complete the application. An applicant may submit additional information to the Department to cure the deficiencies in the application. The Department shall make a final determination as to whether the application is complete within the later of (i) 30 days after the Department receives the application for the permit less the number of days that the applicant uses to provide the additional information or (ii) 10 days after the Department receives the additional information from the applicant. The Department shall issue a draft permit decision on an application for a permit within 90 days after the Department determines that the application is complete. The Department shall hold a public hearing and accept written comment on the draft permit decision for a period of not less than 30 or more than 60 days after the Department issues a draft permit decision. The Department shall issue a final permit decision on an application for a permit within 60 days after the comment period on the draft permit decision closes. If the Department fails to act within any time period set out in this subsection, the applicant may treat the failure to act as a denial of the permit and may challenge the denial as provided in Chapter 150B of the General Statutes.

(c) If the Department finds that compliance with the deadlines established under subsection (b) of this section would result in insufficient review of a permit application that would pose a risk to public health, safety, and welfare; the environment; or natural resources, the applicable deadline shall be waived for the application as necessary to allow for adequate review. If a deadline is waived pursuant to this subsection, the Secretary shall issue a written declaration, including findings of fact, documenting the need for the waiver.

(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section or any other provision of law, the Department shall either issue or deny a permit required for dewatering of a retired impoundment within 90 days of receipt of a completed application, in such a form and including such information as the Department may prescribe, for the dewatering activities. The Department shall accept written comment on a draft permit decision for a period of not less than 30 days or more than 60 days prior to issuance or denial of such a permit. If the Department fails to act within any time period set out in this subsection, the applicant may treat the failure to act as a denial of the permit and may challenge the denial as provided in Chapter 150B of the General Statutes. (2014-122, s. 3(a).)