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County to consider driveway permits, land fill regulations in building ordinance

The board of county commissioners is set to hold their final reading of a proposed new building ordinance that, among other things, would establish regulations for the construction of driveways and the clearing and filling of lots.

At a workshop held during a special meeting on Sept. 6, the county commissioners spent the better part of half an hour discussing both of these features of the proposed ordinance in anticipation of their likely vote on Sept. 26.

“We have two different issues,” said County Administrator Michael Hammond, opening up the discussion. “We have the driveway permits that were somewhat controversial… and land filling permits and the problem that arises when people fill their lots and don’t respect their neighbors’ property.”

The commissioners came into the workshop mostly in consensus about the need of a permitting process for driveways in Gulf County due to what they said was either an intentional or unintentional common violation of the county’s impervious area regulations for construction.

The county requires that no more than 30 percent of a lot’s available land area be covered by impervious substances, such as a paved driveway.

The issue first arose following a presentation given by a developer to the board in June demonstrating the abilities of a paver to absorb rainfall. The developer wanted the county to consider it as an alternative to gravel and other envious substances that might hinder those who needed a flatter surface for balance and mobility.

In the workshop, commissioners agreed that some form of permitting process for driveways would be required in order to ensure adherence to the county’s impervious area regulations. However, they offered several points for consideration in the proposed ordinance’s final wording.

Commissioner Jack Husband, a structural and civil engineer, recommended that the ordinance be tailored to more clearly prohibit certain types of base materials, such as lime rock, that are less pervious than alternatives like gravel or certain types of pervious pavers (with proper maintenance).

“I’ve done a lot of research over the weekend, and I know it was brought up that the gravel and the pervious brick pavers were a concern, and really, to me, the gravel and the pervious pavers, with the approved engineering… we have a section in the LDRs that allows for what’s called ‘alternative paving materials,’ so that’s more or less taken care of in my opinion,” he said.

“I believe that the gravel is not the problem, it’s the lime rock and the base below the gravel.”

Moving on to the second matter at hand, the commissioners also discussed that they would need to establish a timeline in which someone would have to secure any fill materials placed on a lot before they needed to be secured to prevent runoff onto neighboring properties.

Following a recommendation by Hammond, the commissioners agreed to consider a 30 day window, to be monitored by code enforcement, after which action would need to be taken.

“Our recommendation was that if you don’t have a building permit and you’re not doing something within 30 days that you have to stabilize that (fill) in some way, whether that’s hydroseed or a silt fence, or something else to keep your dirt and your runoff on your property.”

No vote took place at the Sept. 6 meeting. A final reading of the proposed ordinance, which will include both measures, is scheduled for the county commissioners’ regular meeting on Sept. 26.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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