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Lines Drawn In The Sand

Updated: Mar 2


Stories told that when the overloaded lumber ship sank just out of the St.Joe Channel in 1942, people rushed to the beach to collect the wood that washed ashore. Many of the original houses in Mexico Beach were built using that lumber. Kind of the wild west for building with very little oversight and building codes. Mexico Beach did not become incorporated until 1967. Hurricane Michael wiped the slate, and the city is taking advantage to get a handle on code enforcement and boundary restrictions. This is not a bad thing as upgraded standards will lead to safer, more efficient homes, that can weather stronger storms.


After the storm there were several questions about building placement as it relates to Grandfathering. When our house was built in 1940,it was placed 5-feet from the property line. The new setback restrictions are 7.5' on either sides and 20' from the front and 10' from the back right of ways. We were told, that if we left our slab, we would be able to place the house in the exact same place as it was before the storm, event though it encroached on the setbacks. When we talked to the city, they confirmed that the grandfather would allow us to place the house on the "Exact" same footprint as the original structure. But, if we made any alteration to that footprint... like something as minor as changing the shape or size of the front stoop, it would mean bringing the entire structure into setback compliance.


Having or not having the slab really did not factor into the grandfathering as most of the placement is matched up to ariel maps taken before the storm.


Another note, these grandfather exceptions are not passed along, if the property is sold or transferred to a new owner.


We also discovered a couple other lines that are very important to building, that can affect placement or elevation of new construction.


The first one is the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL). This is a 50' coastal setback line that runs along all the beaches in Florida. Structures built within this coastal setback are required to be elevated.


The second is a height restriction. The permitting process will require an elevation survey certificate letter showing the minimum and maximum elevation of your property. This is required for all new construction located in an "X" Flood Zone or "X" Grey Flood Zone. The elevation height changed after the storm from 12.5' to 14'. The minimum finished floor elevation for new construction must be at or above 16.5'... 2.5' feet above the high water mark.


Luckily we were about 8-feet beyond the CCCL and 2.5-feet about the elevation mark... meaning that we could build on a poured slab foundation. Just make sure you do your homework if planning on building or buying property in the area. These new requirement could mean thousands in building costs, or could prevent you from building all together.

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