Redefining the Line on Fort Myers Beach

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    The Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) is an important fact of life for all beachfront property owners. The line, established by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and used by counties and municipalities, is designed to protect beaches and dunes while allowing use of private property along the beach. The CCCL creates an area that triggers special site and design criteria for construction and the involvement of the DEP in the approval of that construction design and placement.

    Building or living anywhere on Fort Myers Beach brings with it a heightened regard for the power of wind and water. Most of the beach is in a Flood Hazard A zone requiring hurricane resistant construction and building above the base flood elevation. But for those right on the beach, in the VE zone, that brings a whole other long list of requirements. But the first question to come up is usually, “How close can I build to the water?”

    Water view and water proximity are strong motivating factors when you choose to live right on the beach. The answer to the question of how close to the water is determined by that CCCL. The CCCL is determined by a series of markers or pins, plus GPS coordinates. Over the years more than one set of pins have been placed and the line has been adjusted.

    This week we received a call from a beachfront property owner who expressed concern over some new construction that appeared to be too close to the water, or over that CCCL line.

    Aerial view of beachfront south of Junkanoo’s. Courtesy of leepa.org.
    Aerial view of beachfront south of Junkanoo’s. Courtesy of leepa.org.

    Susan Koziol owns two properties south of Junkanoo’s. One of them is an empty lot next to 3056 Estero Blvd where two condo homes are under construction. The property at 3056 is owned by Persaud Properties FL and construction is by Orlandini Development. Koziol was convinced that the new construction is too close to the beach and wanted something done about it.

    “It appears he is 8 feet past the CCCL line. Everybody should know and some action taken about this,” she said.

    When we spoke to her this week, she had not heard from the Town in response to her messages left for code enforcement.

    A close look on the ground or via an aerial photo does indeed show that one of the new structures at 3056 is indeed closer to the water than the properties south of it.

    But is it over the CCCL?

    A handful of surveyors, DEP, Town and County planners and development officials have devoted a lot of time to that question in the last two weeks.

    Fort Myers Beach Director of Community Development Kara Stewart indicated in a May 2nd email to Orlandini and county planners that one of the neighbors was claiming that a survey they had done put the new construction seaward of the CCCL.

    Randy Simes, a plan reviewer with Lee County responded, “The D.E. P. approved plans in file shows the building to be 210.3” from front property line, and is inside (landward of CCCL line).”

    Orlandini’s surveyor, Phillip Mould of Harris-Jorgenson then contacted Tim Besse, Engineering Specialist with the DEP seeing clarification, as there were conflicting survey reports on where the CCCL line was.

    Besse’s response on May 3rd found that the CCCL on the Mould survey for the new construction to be the accurate one.

    The location that you show for the 1978 Coastal Construction Setback Line agrees with the location we have,” he wrote, indicating that the actual CCCL line is about 8-feet further seaward than previously thought.

    While Stewart questioned the points used for the new location of the CCCL as it conflicted with previous surveys, the problem seemed to boil down to which pins or markers were used as reference points in past surveys. On May 4th, she acknowledged the reference point issue in an email to Mould.

    “It is appearing you have found a different reference point than those before you and such will adjust the line going forward for future work on Fort Myers Beach,” Stewart wrote.

    Stewart was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment. Town Manager Don Stilwell summed up the result of the survey confusion.

    “The DEP seems to confirm that the (CCCL) line is further seaward than thought when the older houses along that stretch were built,” he said. “It looks like the other person (neighbor’s survey) used the wrong pin and the new survey found the right pin.”

    Orlandini stated that construction is continuing on both properties on the site. He added that the neighbor’s survey and previous surveys along that stretch of beach may have been done using old reference points.

    New Construction at 3056 Estero sits several feet more seaward than it’s neighbors. Photo by Missy Layfield.
    New Construction at 3056 Estero sits several feet more seaward than it’s neighbors. Photo by Missy Layfield.

    “Actually, we are two feet landward of the CCCL line at that location,” he added. “And the DEP agrees with our survey and told us we are landward of the CCCL.”

    “The new homes at that location are going to be really beautiful. There will be lots of landscaping and they’ll both have great views of the Gulf.”

    The lot, like many beachfront lots, extends a hundred feet or more toward the water line, past the CCCL, though building is not permitted there.

    As the details of this recently recognized shift of the CCCL line are revealed, it may mean that beachfront property owners like Koziol will be able to build closer to the water than originally thought possible.

     

    Missy Layfield