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
Typically, for example, a proposed residential structure must be
located as far landward as possible, must not advance an existing line of
construction, and must be elevated above the calculated storm surge and wind
driven waves associated with a 100-year storm event. The structure must be constructed on pilings with ground
level walls constructed of breakaway material. Under the Statewide Florida
Building Code, the technical construction details applicable to structures to
be constructed seaward of the CCCL are regulated through the building permits
required by counties and municipalities.
As noted above, structures to be constructed seaward of the
established CCCL are required to be elevated upon piles. The piles are to be
designed to be embedded deep enough to remain structurally sound after the
predicted loss of several feet of soil during a hurricane event. The
structure is required to be elevated to a height such that the water
associated with a hurricane storm surge and wind blown waves can pass safely
below the first horizontal beam supporting the living floor of the
structure. This elevation, called the "design storm elevation"
or "100-year elevation" is measured from the bottom of the first
horizontal structural member to mean sea level.
In 2002 following refined computer modeling, the FDEP
revised its minimum elevation requirements increasing the predicted height of
the "100 year storm" elevation. The legal effect of this
modification was to make all structures previously permitted to lower
elevations as legally non-conforming.
It may not be permissible to expand existing nonconforming
structures beyond the existing footprint and at the same non-conforming
elevation if the cost of the proposed improvements equals or exceeds 50% of
the fair market value of the non-conforming structure prior to the
Buyers of existing structures seaward of the State CCCL are
advised to have a surveyor determine the elevation of the first horizontal
beam and compare this elevation with the State's current 100-year storm
In addition to the CCCL, the Florida Legislature has
established the 30-year Erosion Projection Line. This line establishes the
predicted shoreline thirty years into the future based on site specific
historic erosion data. Florida law prohibits any new construction
seaward of the 30-year erosion projection line. A limited exception to this
prohibition is available to allow the construction of a single family
residence if the location of the line would otherwise prohibit the
construction of such residence on the property. Only that amount of
encroachment beyond the line that will allow a reasonable use of the property
will be permitted.
Buyers are advised to have the location of this 30-year
Erosion Projection Line surveyed prior to purchase.
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
Counties and municipalities may also impose
their own setbacks from the Atlantic Ocean or 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".
The relative location of
jurisdictional lines within Sarasota County is depicted above. The red line
represents the location of the State Coastal Construction Control Line. The yellow line is the Sarasota County Gulf Beach Setback Line. The
is the location of the mean high water line.
advised to check with their local jurisdiction to determine the existence of
any local setback requirements and the effect of such requirements on
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 Atlantic Ocean and 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
Ocean or 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 parenthetical number shown with the designated FEMA Zone on the figure
above represents the applicable Base Flood Elevation, i.e., the predicted
height above mean sea level of either a 100-year flood, in the case of FEMA
"A" Zones, or the 100-year storm surge, in the case of FEMA
FEMA "A" Zone
In an "A Zone", the top of lowest
habitable floor must be elevated to or above the required 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
FEMA "V" Zone
In a FEMA "V" Zone, the bottom of lowest horizontal structural member
supporting the lowest habitable floor must be elevated to or 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 a FEMA "V" Zone would look like
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
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 exceeds or equals 50% of the market value of the
structure, the existing structure must the brought into compliance with FEMA regulations.
Local jurisdictions have different rules regarding the
calculation of the 50% rule after the issuance of the first permit.
Buyers are advised to consult with local building officials regarding their
redevelopment or remodeling plans. For more information regarding
"FEMA" regulations, please see the Power
Point Presentation included in this website.
HERE FOR A LIST OF WATERFRONT REALTORS
Click Here for GLOSSARY
OF IMPORTANT TERMS
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[David M. Levin,Esq.] [Professional]
as a Public Service by
David M. Levin, Esq.
Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A.
Sarasota and Punta Gorda, Florida
Sullivan Street, Suite 112
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950