beach devastation
DEVASTATION — In the aftermath of hurricanes Ian and Nicole, Volusia County estimated the storms caused $30 million of ocean-related damages. Volusia County Coastal Division Director Jessica Fentress said multiple homes fell into the ocean, and, while storms were battering the county, beachside condos and hotels were evacuated for fear they may collapse.

County Council will decide whether to make it law

The Volusia County Soil and Water Conservation District is recommending that the Volusia County Council restrict construction along the county’s beaches following the devastation wrought by hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

If the County Council finds the measure appropriate, the rules recommended by the Soil and Water Board of Supervisors would push Volusia County’s Coastal Construction Control Line back 50 feet away from the beach.

Soil and Water Conservation District Chair Wendy Anderson said it is the district’s duty to make sure the county is up to date with its science, and factors like climate change and dune erosion will only make coastal construction more and more untenable.

“We’re hearing across the county from many, many different constituents and organizations that there is an appetite right now for putting some bigger thought on what we’re doing with coastal construction,” Anderson said.

Per the state’s Department of Environmental Protection website, Coastal Construction Control Lines are the line in the sand determining how close to the beach construction can occur.

“The CCCL location is based on coastal engineering models, survey and bathymetric
data and scientific principles that determine the upland or landward extent of the damaging effects of a 100-year storm event,” the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website explains.

Volusia County’s CCCL currently lies approximately 250 feet to the east of State Road A1A, bisecting many beachfront properties. Pushing the line westward by 50 feet would prevent most new beachfront construction.

Existing construction, Anderson said, would be unaffected.

“Existing construction can remain for as long as Mother Nature allows … ,” she said.

While the Soil and Water Conservation District can’t change the county’s building rules, the agency can recommend the county consider changes. In this case, the supervisors passed a resolution on Dec. 14 recommending the 50-foot change and including a clause recommending that the County Council keep in mind that plants growing on beach dunes need as much sun as they can get.

Protecting those plants makes the dunes stronger and less likely to erode into the sea, Soil and Water Conservation District Associate Supervisor Derrick Orberg said.

“If you go back through historical photos,” he said, “you’ll see there was a lot more vegetation on the beach.”

The 50-foot change and the recommendations for shade do not apply to pedestrian walkways, bridges or ADA access.

Not all of the supervisors were in favor of compelling the County Council to take up a potentially controversial ordinance. Outgoing Supervisor William Bliss asked his fellow supervisors to consider tabling the ordinance to allow for more scientists to come to a Soil and Water Conservation District meeting to offer their views of the new rule.


Soil and Water Chair Wendy Anderson, however, pointed out that, at this stage, the board does not necessarily have to have all of the specifics of a potential ordinance decided on. Instead, Anderson said, details could be worked out in a joint discussion with the County Council when the resolution comes before council members next year.

The resolution passed by a vote of 3-1, with Chair Anderson and Supervisors Andy Kelly and Mike Simpson in favor, and Supervisor Bliss against.

While some on the board and in the audience at the meeting were uncertain about
the specifics of the resolution, outgoing Supervisor Andy Kelly said this move was an important step toward protecting vulnerable parts of the county’s environment.

“Man can’t defy nature,” Kelly said, “and we continue to think we can.”

Anderson said the resolution will get discussion started at the county level.

“Where we go from here is at either the first or second meeting of the newly seated County Council in January. I will present this to them … ,” Anderson said.

District board has new members


Dec. 14 marked the final meeting for outgoing Soil and Water Supervisors
Andy Kelly, William Bliss and John Nelson.

Bliss and Kelly were elected in 2018 and have finished their terms. Because
of changes in the state’s eligibility for who can serve on Soil and Water
Conservation District boards, every seat on the five-member board was up for re-election this year. The changes left Nelson, who was elected in 2020, out of a seat on the board.

Replacing the outgoing members will be newly elected Supervisors Austin
Spivey, James Brinton and Kristine Cunningham.

After new members are sworn in in January, the district board will be composed of Anderson, Spivey, Brinton, Cunningham and Mike Simpson, who was elected but then appointed so he could immediately replace Supervisor Tom Burbank, who was elected to a seat on the Deltona City Commission.

The district board meets at 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at the UF IFAS agricultural extension office, 3100 E. New York Ave. in DeLand. The meetings are open to the public.


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