HOLMES BEACH – Resident Steve Titsworth, owner of Shoreline Builders, read a letter to city commissioners last week regarding substantial improvement construction occurring at 302 67th Street and 303 68th Street.
“The continuing permitting of this kind of work is against our LDC (land development code), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) regulations and the Florida Building Code which now mandates FEMA compliance,” he stressed.
“Our city is at risk with regard to NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) certification and the owners or future owners are at risk by having non-conforming properties which may not qualify for mortgages or insurance.”
Titsworth said the roof was removed and new exterior walls were built around old exterior walls, which were later removed.
“It’s all smoke and mirrors,” he said.
According to the NFIP, “Substantial improvement means any rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a building when the cost of the improvement equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building before start of construction of the improvement.”
Building Official Joe Duennes explained. “We permitted them based on the appraised value, which establishes the value, and the affidavit of construction, which establishes the cost of the new repair. These are the numbers you work with to get the percentage.
“We issued the permits under the condition that the exterior walls and major portions of the roof remain. A portion of the roof was removed where an old wall was removed. They put up a new wall because they expanded the footprint.”
Titsworth asked the city to hire an outside expert to address the issues he raised. He also said he had requested public records regarding the permit applications and associated documents for the two homes, but had not received them.
Building Department Clerk Susan Lonzo explained the process for requesting public records.
“A person makes a request to the city clerk and she writes it up and gives it to me,” she said. “I research it and tell her the time it took and the cost. She tells the person the cost, and they approve it and bring in a deposit.”
She said she wrote Titsworth’s request on Tuesday, Sept. 11, the day he appeared before the city commission.