COASTAL CONSTRUCTION

Coastal Construction is regulated by a variety of jurisdictions. The State of Florida has established Coastal Construction Control Lines (CCCL) on a county-by-county basis to define that portion of the beach-dune system which is subject to severe fluctuations following major storm events. The purpose of the CCCL is to preserve and protect coastal barrier dunes and adjacent beaches from imprudent construction which can jeopardize the stability of the beach-dune system, accelerate erosion, and provide inadequate protection for upland structures.

Permits from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems are required for most structures constructed seaward of the established CCCL. Limited exemptions from permitting requirements are available. For example, the modification, maintenance, or repair of existing structures within the limits of existing foundations, which do not result in any addition to, repair or modification of the foundation itself, is exempt. Additionally, additions or enclosures added above the first dwelling floor may also be exempt from CCCL permitting. DEP regulations specify detailed siting and engineering design criteria which must be satisfied before a permit will be issued for construction seaward of the CCCL. Typically, for example, a proposed residential structure must be located as far landward as possible, must be elevated above the calculated storm surge associated with a 100-year storm event, and occupy no more than 60% of the width of the lot upon which is to be erected. The structure must be constructed on pilings with ground level walls constructed of breakaway material.

Counties and municipalities also regulate coastal construction by incorporating within local building codes regulations established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Local enforcement of FEMA regulations is required to enable local governments to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program affording federally subsidized insurance to its residents. Counties and municipalities may also impose their own setbacks from the Gulf of Mexico to limit the seaward location of residential structures. Sarasota County, for example, has established a Gulf Beach Setback Line, located between the mean high water line and the state CCCL. While the State CCCL is a line of permitting jurisdiction, Sarasota County's Gulf Beach Setback Line is a line of prohibition. According to Sarasota County's Ordinance, construction seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line is prohibited. Sarasota County does exempt from its prohibition certain minor structures such as decks, dune walk-over structures, and stairs. Construction of residences seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line may be conducted only if a variance is granted by the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners upon a demonstration of an "unusual hardship".

FEMA REGULATIONS

The goal of the National Flood Insurance Program ("NFIP"), administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") is to reduce losses through regulation of construction. FEMA regulations are enforced by local communities through building and zoning codes. The primary objective of FEMA is to elevate the habitable portion of structures above flood waters. FEMA prepares Flood Insurance Rate Maps ("FIRM") delineating flood risk zones. Properties along the Gulf of Mexico are typically located either in a FEMA "A" Zone, or "V" Zone, or both. As depicted in the figure above, FEMA "V" Zones reflect areas which are subject to flood waters with the greatest velocity, i.e., closest to the Gulf. FEMA "A" Zones are generally located immediately landward from FEMA "V" Zones. Each Zone has special construction design requirements for structures to be located within said area. FEMA regulations are designed to require vulnerable structures to be elevated above the flood waters associated with a 100-year storm event, the "Base Flood". FIRM maps depict the required Base Flood Elevation ("BFE") associated with the designated FEMA Flood Zone. The paranthetical number shown with the designated FEMA Zone on the figure above represents the applicable Base Flood Elevation.

FEMA "A" Zone Restrictions
In an "A Zone", the top of lowest habitable floor must be elevated above the Base Flood Elevation ("BFE"). Areas below the BFE can only be used for parking, storage, or access.



Walls below the BFE must have openings (shown as "foundation opening" above) to permit entry and exit of flood waters.

A typical conforming house in an "A Zone" would look like this:


FEMA "V" Zone Restrictions

In a FEMA "V" Zone, the bottom of lowest horizontal structural member supporting the lowest habitable floor must be elevated above the BFE.

The space below the BFE must be free of obstructions. Areas below the BFE must be used for open space, storage, or access. Standard electrical outlets, appliances, air conditioning equipment, and bathrooms are prohibited below the BFE. Walls below the BFE must be of break-away design.

A typical conforming house in an "V Zone" would look like this:






ALL NEW STRUCTURES BUILT AFTER JANUARY 1, 1975 AND ALL "SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENTS" TO EXISTING STRUCTURES MUST CONFORM TO CURRENT FEMA FLOOD ZONE RESTRICTIONS.

STRUCTURES AND ADDITIONS WHICH DO NOT CONFORM TO FEMA RESTRICTIONS MAY BE ILLEGAL.

FEMA 50% RULE

Any reconstruction, repair, addition or other improvement, the cost of which exceeds or equals 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction, is deemed to be a "substantial improvement".

If the improvement either alone, or in combination with the cost of improvements over the past five years exceeds or equals 50% of the market value of the structure, the existing structure must the brought into compliance with FEMA regulations.

Example: In 1995 a structure valued at $200,000 was renovated at a cost of $99,999. In the absence of the appreciation in market value of the structure after the renovations, no further repairs, reconstruction, or improvements can be performed until the year 2000 without retrofitting the structure to comply with FEMA regulations.





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