Florida governor signs order easing rebuilding of marine structures

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed an executive order designed to streamline rebuilding efforts on piers, docks and marinas at private and commercial facilities in the state after Hurricane Irma.

Scott’s decision was announced Wednesday during a special session on hurricane recovery at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference in Tampa. Session moderator Margaret Podlich passed around handouts of the order, explaining that it was important because it gives property owners the chance to immediately get to work fixing docks and facilities without having to wait for a permit.

Normally, a marina, private dock or yacht club owner would have to get permission from the state Department of Environmental Protection to make virtually any repair.

In the emergency final order, owners of structures that were “legally there immediately before the hurricane” can make the following repairs: temporarily or permanently fix structures and drainage systems that have not been completely destroyed; repair structures on state-owned submerged lands that are water-dependent, such as a residential dock; remove debris and trash, sunken vessels, vegetation and structural remains that have been deposited into the waters or wetlands without dredging or filling; and repair, restore or replace structures, land and submerged contours to the conditions that were authorized or otherwise legally existed prior to the hurricane.

A government entity can restore elevations and contours of uplands, wetlands and submerged lands and navigation channels.

“If you have one piece left, you can rebuild,” said John Sprague, president of JH Sprague Consulting LLC. He consults on marina-construction projects throughout the state.

For structures that have been destroyed, a field or individual authorization may be required. Those with questions can contact their local district office of the Florida DEP. 

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