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City of Sanibel Guidance on Hurricane Home Restoration

Susan McCallion

Hi! I’m Susan McCallion, Sanibel resident, former non-profit executive, mother of four, and Broker and Principal of McCallion & McCallion Realty...

Hi! I’m Susan McCallion, Sanibel resident, former non-profit executive, mother of four, and Broker and Principal of McCallion & McCallion Realty...

Mar 13 10 minutes read

The City of Sanibel knows the importance of upholding Sanibel's unique sanctuary island characteristics. They also realize that codes and restrictions can be complex for homeowners rebuilding post-Hurricane Ian.

So, the City's Natural Resources, Public Works, and Planning Departments have compiled information to assist residents with renovation, restoration, and redevelopment projects. The guidance below helps ensure properties remain compliant with the City’s Vision Statement, Sanibel Plan, and Land Development Code as we work to restore our Sanctuary Island.

Natural Resources Department

Vegetation Permits - Do I need a permit to remove or plant vegetation?

  • Some activities that would typically require a vegetation permit have been exempted through Mayoral Proclamation and can be viewed by following this link.
  • Activities such as mangrove trimming and removal, vegetation trimming and removal gulfward of the Coastal Construction Control Line, removal of live native vegetation (plants unaffected by the hurricane or those that can be restored or preserved), vegetation work on vacant lots, and other activities described in Sanibel Code Sections 122-141 through 122-150 (Vegetation Permits), that are not otherwise addressed in Mayoral Proclamations REQUIRE a permit.

Landscaping – Are there requirements for the type of plants I use?

  • Generally, landscaping requires the use of 75% native vegetation within each category of native plants (trees, shrubs, and groundcovers), with the remainder being additional native plants or non-competing exotic plants. A good RULE OF THUMB: for every non-competing exotic plant installed, it should be offset with three native plants to prevent non-compliance. It is strongly recommended that a landscape or planting plan be submitted to the Natural Resources Department to review compliance with the land development code.
  • Planting any invasive exotic vegetation on Sanibel is prohibited (Section 122-169) For a list of invasive exotic plants please visit the Florida Invasive Species Council website.

Why native plants? 

  • Native plants are adapted to the local climate, require little or no supplemental irrigation or fertilizer once established, and provide habitat and forage for native wildlife. Many native species tolerate salt spray and inundation, making Sanibel more resilient to severe weather and rising seas. 
  • Certain properties along arterial and collector roads (see definition for Street) must adhere to vegetation buffer standards and these properties should work to restore buffers to code standards in Article II – Landscaping.

What are the restrictions on sod & mulch?

  • The use of sod (turf grass) is limited by the City’s environmental performance standards. Generally, sod is limited to 20 percent of the total land area of the parcel or 4,000 square feet per dwelling unit, whichever is less. Please note that only sod can be planted in the City’s right of way.
  • Properties may temporarily use mulch to stabilize exposed soils until the property can conform to development and vegetation standards. Once a property is properly revegetated, mulch must be limited to appropriate quantities around plantings and in landscape beds. Other materials such as shell, rock, or gravel spread outside of designated driveways, foot paths, and/or landscape beds shall be considered developed area and may result in over development. Please check with us before you install shell, rock or gravel!

Replanting Guide

Public Works Department

Restoring the Right-of-Way

A right-of-way (RW) includes both the paved areas of streets as well as swale and drainage areas (typically sodded) along the edges of the road. Utilities are also located within the right-of-way (water, sewer, and electricity). Maintaining the right-of-way is important for the city to be able to provide and restore these services to residents.

  • Public right-of-way must be a sodded swale. No vegetation planting other than sod is allowed in the right-of-way.
  • Placement of fill in the right-of-way is not allowed without a right-of-way modification permit from Public Works. Swale elevations will be set by Public Works staff and must follow the Typical Swale Section exhibit – see below. Deviations from the typical swale must be approved by Public Works through the right-of-way permitting process.
  • Driveway/culvert modification in the right-of-way will require a driveway permit.
  • Ground covers, other than sod, are not allowed in the right-of-way. No mulch or gravel is allowed.
  • No obstructions are allowed in the right-of-way, including irrigation, decorative rocks, or fencing. 

Maintaining On-site Stormwater Retention

All properties are required to contain stormwater runoff on-site consistent with stormwater standards. Affecting this on-site drainage, either through placement of fill or regrading of a property, requires review by the City.

  • Any alterations in grade will require an engineered drainage plan and drainage certification letter from engineer after completion.
  • Restoration work to restore grades based on an existing approved drainage plan, a drainage certification letter from the engineer will be required after completion. Approved drainage plan must be included in permit application.
  •  Addition of fill (other than to restore a property to an existing approved drainage plan) requires approval of a development permit. The placement of fill on a property that alters the existing drainage pattern, ground contours, or grade elevations of the real property or the bottom elevation of an open body or water, constitutes development (Section 78-9) and a development permit is required.
  • Detailed standards for Stormwater control can be found in Chapter 118, Article IV of the Land Development Code. 

Sanitary Sewer

The City of Sanibel is the provider of wastewater (sewer) for residents.

  • If you are demolishing your existing house, please be aware that the sewer connection must be disconnected and capped off, and you or your contractor must request an inspection from Public Works to verify that the disconnection point was appropriately sealed off.
  •  Standards for Wastewater disposal can be found in Chapter 118, Article III of the Land Development Code.

If you have any questions on the above, please contact the Public Works Department at [email protected] or (239) 472-6397.

Planning Department

Did you know that Sanibel has outdoor lighting standards for fixtures and bulbs to protect native wildlife (Sea turtles!) and the small-town character of our island community?

Before making Outdoor Lighting purchases, please consider this:

  • Full cutoff fixtures are required (unless the fixture is recessed under a porch or roof overhang)
  • Full cutoff fixtures for landscaping and pathway lighting (under 3 feet tall) are recommended but not required.
  • Fixtures must be downward facing.
  • Motion-detected security lighting (using a full cutoff fixture) is encouraged.
  • ·Mercury vapor lighting is not allowed.

Permits for Outdoor Lighting? In some cases, yes…

  • A permit is required for Outdoor Lighting on properties or structures located in the Bay Beach, Gulf Beach, and Gulf Beach Ridge zones and must comply with marine turtle lighting standards.
  • Know your zone! The City’s Future Land Use Map Series is now available online through this link.
  • A permit is also required for pole-mounted fixtures greater than 10 feet tall.
  • Apply for a permit using Sanibel Online and select the “Accessory” permit type.
  • Click here to review Outdoor Lighting standards in the Land Development Code.

If you have questions about outdoor lighting, please contact the Planning Department at [email protected] or (239) 472-4136.

Full Guidance

The City of Sanibel provides a full article titled: Guidance on Restoring Your Sanibel Home - Post-Hurricane Ian. Click below to read the full article.

Read Article
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