ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The Atlantic Beach City Commission voted unanimously Monday in favor of an ordinance that residents argued will reduce their property values and restrict what they can build on their land.
Ordinance 90-19-238 specifically addresses lot coverage as it relates to flooding concerns in the small coastal community.
Until now, property owners were allowed to cover 50 percent of their residential lot with concrete or other impervious surfaces, meaning their home could cover half the size of their property and pools were not counted against this percentage.
DOCUMENT: Read the ordinance
Driveways and patios were also allowed with credits offered if homeowners used pervious surfaces. Now, the number is being reduced to 45 percent and the exceptions that were previously allowed are either no longer included or are being drastically reduced.
Under the new ordinance, someone who wants to build an addition to their home might not be able to do so depending on the size of that home and might also not be able to install a pool, patio or concrete driveway.
New home construction will now require smaller homes, if the project includes a pool and impervious driveway.
Mayor Ellen Glasser and the City Commission spoke to a crowd of about 75 homeowners Monday night who filled City Hall to complain that the new ordinance is designed to reduce residential flooding. Glasser said she supports the council's vote.
"This commission is really planning for the future, so we have to sort of weigh the short-term impact of what we do against the long-term benefit," Glasser said. "We heard what people said, we try to be responsive, but we cannot be deterred from looking at this serious stormwater issue that we face."
Homeowners said they have been paying a stormwater fee for years and insisted the money from the fee should be used to improve infrastructure, like underground pipes that are too small or damaged to handle rain storms.
Many of the people who spoke accused the city of penalizing all homeowners for a flooding issue that impacts a small percentage of Atlantic Beach homes.
Ashton Hudson told commissioners the ordinance is going to reduce property values,
“We are going to crush property values in Atlantic Beach by continually over-regulating issues,” Hudson said. “The government is way overstepping here.”
Realtor Lynn Mattingly said future homeowners are not going to want to move to Atlantic Beach if they are not able to make additions, such as adding pools, patios and driveways, to older homes, which are often renovated or torn down and rebuilt after they're purchased.
Mattingly told the commission about a buyer she is representing that is now second guessing a move to the city.
“We were ready to put an offer in on a home last week, and she pulled the plug right now because she’s waiting for the results of this meeting and this is going to happen continually,” Mattingly said.
According to the 165 engineering report, the city's storm water system is insufficient for current growth. It finds without big changes and infrastructure investments, the problem will only get worse.