Flood map changes to affect projects
Long-anticipated changes in floodplain maps, coupled with changes to the Florida Building Code, are going to require buildings to be built at higher elevations, town officials say.
Residences will have to be built at 8.5 feet, a foot higher than now, and nonresidential buildings at 9.5 feet, 2 feet higher than current guidelines.
The state building code is expected to change in December after it is adopted by the Florida Legislature, Building Official Bill Bucklew told the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Meanwhile, new Federal Emergency Management Agency maps and related changes to the town’s flood ordinances and zoning code must be adopted by early October if the town is to remain eligible for federal funds through the National Flood Insurance Program. The zoning board recommended on Tuesday that the Town Council adopt the changes.
In response to the flood map changes, the town is raising the point where it begins measuring building height so homes and other structures won’t be “squeezed” by the higher elevation, Zoning Administrator Paul Castro said.
Maura Ziska, a lawyer who represents owners seeking development permission from the council, asked if people seeking building permits before the end of the year could voluntarily build at the new elevation requirement without being “penalized” by the existing height regulations.
Town Attorney John Randolph said he was not aware of any existing provision that would allow that. “We ought to go to the Town Council and see if there’s anything we can do,” he said.
Some commissioners shared Ziska’s concern.
“If I were building a house right now, I would want to build to the extra foot and not be penalized,” Commissioner Kenneth Walker said.
Castro said it could be problematic for owners who have town permission to build at the existing elevation standard but who have not built the home or commercial building and who want town approval to build at the new, higher elevation.
“These projects all went through the public hearing process,” Castro said. “You’ve only heard one side of this issue. You haven’t heard from the neighbors about the impact of retroactively raising approved projects by 1 foot.”