Do Your Due Diligence
Do you dream of finally building that beach house at the coast? Maybe put a little dune walkover in front so you can get to the beach easier? Adding a seawall to reduce erosion? Enlarging an existing house for the growing number of friends and relatives whom you haven’t seen in years who suddenly want to visit you? You’re going to need a permit for that. Among other things, you will need a Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). So, if falling interest rates have given you the bug to buy that beachfront lot, there are some considerations you need to make before you sign on the dotted line.
The stated purpose of the CCCL program is to protect Florida’s beaches and dune systems from development that may harm those systems by increasing erosion, threatening upland structures and property, interfering with sea turtles, or affecting public access to the beaches. The program attempts to balance the right for reasonable use of property with the need to protect these natural habitats. With that in mind, the State of Florida began establishing the coastal construction line in 1984 on a county-by-county basis. Twenty five counties are included. The line is based on historical weather information and is designed to predict areas that would be impacted by a 100-year storm event. With minor exceptions allowed by exemption, any construction seaward of that line requires a CCCL permit. DEP provides a website called Map Direct, where you can locate the property in question and see if it falls under the CCCL program. By the way, Wakulla County does not fall under the CCCL program, as its shoreline is mostly vegetated.
Jurisdiction for coastal construction is granted by Florida Statute 161.053. Coastal construction is regulated in Florida by Chapter 62B-33 of the Florida Administrative Code. Chapter 62B-33 provides the design and siting criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a permit. If you qualify for a General Permit, Chapter 62B-34 is the regulatory chapter. Essentially, the criteria require that you must build a structure that will survive a 100-year coastal storm event. The structure must be situated so as not to destabilize the dune system, cause other properties to be damaged during a storm, or interfere with nesting sea turtles.
The design criteria are extensive and the data and drawings you must submit for an application are voluminous. You will therefore need to assemble a team of people to help you obtain a CCCL permit. This may include a civil engineer, architect, environmental consultant, surveyor, and even a landscape architect. Your construction drawings must be signed and sealed, and the survey requirements are way more extensive than a standard boundary survey. You will also have to provide a sea turtle friendly lighting plan, a landscape plan, and many other drawings.
Before you do all of that, however, it would be wise to locate the property using the Map Direct program, find the reference markers shown on either side, and make a call to DEP’s Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems to discuss your proposed project with one of the permit managers. They can tell you if the area is one that has critical erosion concerns or other problematic issues that may make obtaining a permit difficult or cost prohibitive.
If you decide you want to move forward, remember to get your checkbook out: a single family residence with less than 2,400 square feet can cost upwards of $3,500 in permit fees, once garages, pools, and other minor structures are added.
The Phoenix Environmental Group, Inc.