Water-Related News

Ft. Myers Beach Council favors floodplain regulation changes

Fort Myers Beach's residential streets are dotted with the quaint beach cottages that give the island its own unique style.

Many of those homes are older - which, unfortunately, can be a problem.

Homes built before 1984 do not meet current flood elevation standards for state and federal requirements on new buildings. If a homeowner wants to renovate a pre-1984 beach cottage, there is a lot of red tape.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach currently uses a five-year, 50 percent rule that restricts the amount an owner can spend renovating their home in a five-year period without bringing a home into compliance with current flood standards.

But that could change, as the council's eye turns to the policy.

Now, if a structure is valued at $200,000 by the Lee County Property Appraiser, a homeowner can spend up to 50 percent - $100,000 - in renovations in a five-year period. These are renovations that are defined as substantial improvements, such as a new roof or an addition. It does not include improvements of a building that are required to maintain compliance with health, sanitary, or safety code violations or to projects that serve to harden the home against future weather events. The costs of these projects are cumulative over the five years. If a homeowner sought to do a project that would exceed 50 percent of the home's value, the owner would have to also bring the entire structure into floodplain regulation compliance - which typically means raising the elevation.