Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

“Clarifying” the building code

A resident, Robin Leach, takes issue with an amendment to the City’s building and ordinance code.  According to Ms. Leach, the amendment clarifies nothing.  She envisions lighthouses being built under the new ordinance.

My hope is that line 22, page 8 of Bill 2008-969 is an oversight and can be restored to the current wording in 2008-192 before action is taken.
Bill 2008-969 was introduced on Nov 7 by Ron Fussel  with the purpose of “clarifying ” the building  and ordinance code. It contains a serious flaw.

Page 8, line 22 reads
“Maximum height of structures.  35 feet as measured from the finished floor elevation to the roof peak.” 
This added text fails to clarify the building code. Instead it supersedes the existing definition in Sec 656.1601 Definitions with the undefined term ‘finished floor elevation’. In effect, the height will be measured from wherever a builder chooses to put the finished floor. You could legally build a lighthouse! 

Maximum height had been confusing in the past and the problem was fixed. Ord. 2008-0192, enacted July 2008, contains an exact definition of maximum height, based on the FEMA minimum finished floor elevation plus 1 foot. This is a sensible and unambiguous definition which needs to remain in effect. The actual definition is contained within Sec 656.1601 Definitions. It allows for suitably elevated building in flood zones but precludes past abuses such as mounds of fill to raise the grade.   
Now comes Ordinance 2008-969 to “clarify” the existing code. I do not know the repercussions of the rest of this long bill, but I feel certain about the impact of this section-

However high you build, the 35 feet does not start until you finish a floor. 

It completely undoes the definition that the Council put into Zoning Code with 2008-192.


Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, ,

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