By DOTTY NIST
A state proposal to move the coastal construction control line (CCCL) in Walton County did not raise a great deal of interest, but several local couples attended a June 2 hearing on the proposal in Santa Rosa Beach, to listen and comment.
The stated purpose of Florida’s CCCL program is to protect the beaches and dunes while providing for the use of beachfront property in a reasonable manner. The CCCL sets a boundary for the beachfront area where scientific calculations have indicated that severe impact would occur in the event of a 100-year storm.
In the area between the CCCL line and the water, a state CCCL permit is required for construction to occur. According to the Florida Administrative Code, approval or denial of such a permit is based on an evaluation of potential impacts of the proposed construction activity on the beach dune system, adjacent properties, native vegetation, and sea turtle nesting. Where permitted, construction between the CCCL and the water is subject to special siting and design criteria.
The state is currently proposing to modify the CCCL in Walton County for the first time since 1982. This would be the second establishment of the CCCL in Walton County. The proposed modification is the result of a directive by the state Department of Community Affairs’ Coastal High Hazard Committee. Committee members were concerned about the effectiveness of the existing CCCL in protecting life, property and the beach and dune system, and ordered a study to identify areas where reestablishment of the CCCL was needed.
Exemptions are to be provided on new properties being included in the CCCL program. Existing buildings are to be grandfathered , and improvements to those structures that are made within the existing foundation limits, excluding foundation work, are to be exempt. In instances where construction begins before the CCCL reestablishment, that construction is also to be exempt.
Attendees at the June 2 public hearing consulted maps showing the proposed CCCL modification. Gene Chalecki, program administrator for the state Bureau of Coastal Systems, went into detail on the proposed CCCL changes. In summary, the proposal calls for a zero to 35-foot landward change of the CCCL in the Dune Allen area, the Blue Mountain Beach area, and the Gulf Trace area. In the Grayton Beach area, no change is proposed outside the state park property. In Seaside, the proposed change is 20 feet or less, and in Seagrove Beach, 25 feet or less. In no instance is the CCCL being proposed to move seaward, and Seagrove Beach is the eastern extent of the proposed change, which will impact 96 properties in Walton County.
Blue Mountain Beach homeowner Sherry Chase requested adjustment of the new CCCL on her property based on “site-specific factors.” Chase said that four feet had been added to the frontal dune on her property as the result of placement of sand and planting of dune vegetation. She observed that the new CCCL would take in her planting area. She requested historical data to show why the line was being proposed to move landward.
Beach Highlands homeowner Ed Latham explained that he and his wife Carolyn had purchased their property in the early 1970s. He observed that the new CCCL would take in all structures on their property except the workshop, laundry room and garage. Still, he said this would not be a problem for himself and his wife, since they would have to rebuild in a different manner anyway in the event their home were to be destroyed.
Latham did, however, suggest a look at the elevation of the properties involved and at possible exemptions to requirements in connection with reconstruction seaward of the CCCL.
Latham was concerned about the potential expense of replacing lighting in the event reconstruction were necessary. “We rarely turn our lights on,” he said, adding that he had never seen a sea turtle nest to the north of his property line or anywhere in the vicinity of his home to the east or west. Latham said that there is now a fresh sea turtle nest 20 to 30 feet south of the property lines in his subdivision.
He was of the opinion that animals, particularly dogs, posed more of a negative impact to sea turtles than lights. He added that beach mouse habitat in his area had also become “moot” because of feral cats.
Latham assured the officials in attendance of his support of the Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems and its goals, including sea turtle protection. He said he believed that one of the best ways to accomplish the latter would be to do away with bonfires and fireworks on the beach.
“Beach cleaning does not require four or five vehicles,” Latham added, calling for reducing vehicular traffic on the beach.
Latham also brought up problems that homeowners with seawalls were experiencing in obtaining permission to bring in sand to cover their walls.
Grace Marse did not comment at the hearing but said that she would be submitting written comments to the officials.
The officials indicated that, based on the hearing, they would move forward in the approval process for the proposed CCCL modification, which they anticipate will become effective by late July or early August.
The public comment period for the CCCL amendment will continue until July 1. The June 2 hearing was the final one, but written comments may be submitted throughout the month of June to Rosaline Beckham, Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, Mail Station #300, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000, or by email at email@example.com.
Additional information is available on the Web site www.dep.state.fl.us/beaches or by calling (850) 488-7815.
Dotty Nist may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.