By DOTTY NIST
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled an official public hearing on a proposal to make changes to the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) in Walton County.
The hearing is set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2, at the South Walton Courthouse Annex in Santa Rosa Beach.
The CCCL is a jurisdictional line that sets a boundary along the beach. Seaward, or in Walton County’s case, gulfward of the CCCL, a state CCCL permit is required for any construction, large or small, to occur. According to the Florida Administrative Code, approval of denial of such a permit is based on an evaluation of potential impacts of the proposed construction on the beach dune system, adjacent properties, native vegetation, and sea turtle nesting.
The stated purpose of the CCCL program is to protect Florida’s beaches and dunes while providing for the use of beachfront property in a reasonable manner.
The CCCL defines the area where scientific calculations have indicated that severe impact would occur in the event of a 100-year storm. By definition, such a storm has a 1-percent chance of occurring each year in a given area.
Because of potential impacts to areas between the CCCL and the water, construction and related activities there, when permitted, are subject to special siting and design criteria.
The CCCL currently applying to Walton County has been in existence since 1982. The proposal to redraw the CCCL in Walton County and some other coastal areas in Florida is the result of a 2006 recommendation from DEP’s Coastal High Hazard Committee. After being convened in the wake of the 2004-2005 tropical season, the committee identified concerns about the effectiveness of CCCLs in some areas in protecting life, property, and the beach and dune system.
According to the committee’s final report, preliminary evaluation indicates the established CCCL no longer defines the impact of the 100-year return interval storm (100-year storm) event in multiple areas of the Panhandle, including Gulf County (most notably the St. Joe Peninsula), Santa Rosa, Escambia, Franklin, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
The committee accordingly called for a restudy of the CCCL in the named areas, using updated numerical models, along with rulemaking procedures to revise the CCCL where a need was identified to do so.
DEP officials held a March 3 public workshop in Santa Rosa Beach regarding the proposed CCCL changes in Walton County. On that occasion they commented that 96 properties in Walton County would be affected by the change, and that the CCCL would shift approximately 30 feet or less landward in those areas under the proposal. Affected areas in Walton County were described as the central part of the coastline, roughly from the Beach Highlands/Dune Allen area to Seagrove. The line is not being proposed to move gulfward in any instance in the county. Within the state parks, the CCCL is being proposed to be moved more than 30 feet landward in some cases.
According to an official published notice of the proposed CCCL revision in the May 1, 2009, Florida Administrative Weekly, the proposed Walton County Coastal Construction Line (CCCL) has moved landward from the existing CCCL on 340 properties. However, for all but 96 properties, a landward relocation of the CCCL is not likely to affect the property owner’s requirement to comply with Section 161.053, F.S. and Chapter 62B-33, F.A.C. These are portions of Florida Statutes and the Florida Administrative Code dealing with coastal construction and excavation and permitting for these activities.
Exemptions to the requirement for a CCCL permit are to be provided on new properties being included under the revised CCCL in instances where construction begins prior to the CCCL change. Existing buildings are to be grandfathered, and improvements to those structures within the limits of the existing foundation, excluding foundation work, will also be exempt.
Also exempt will be activities not determined to cause measurable interference or adverse impact to the coastal system, for example, swimming pool repair that does not involve excavation.
Maps of the proposed CCCL changes in Walton County may be accessed on DEP’s Web site at www.dep.state.fl.us/beaches/default.htm#WaltonCo. Those maps will also be available for viewing at the June 2 public hearing. Additional information on the proposed changes is available by calling Rosaline Beckham at DEP, (850) 488-7815.
Dotty Nist can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.