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At its upcoming Special Meeting on November 8, the Lee County Commission will consider several changes to facilitate repairs to buildings damaged by Hurricane Ian.  The Local Planning Agency (LPA) will consider and make a recommendation on the proposed changes at its meeting on November 7.

The most significant changes involve how the “50% Rule” will be calculated.  The 50% Rule, required by FEMA as part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), states that repairs to damaged structures cannot exceed 50% of the value of the building unless the structure is brought into full compliance with current flood regulations, including minimum finished floor elevations.

The calculations for the 50% Rule is based on local regulation. Lee County proposes to change how this calculation is made for unincorporated Lee County by:

  • Allowing for a “permit-by-permit” valuation of the cost of repairs. Current County regulations require a cumulative consideration of improvements made over the previous five years.  This change would not apply to “repetitive loss” properties that have received two or more NFIP payouts in excess of $1000 over a 10-year period.
  • Allowing for the pre-disaster value of the structure to be increase by 15% above the Lee County Property Appraiser’s value or the value established by an independent appraisal, whichever is greater. This change is specific to structures damaged by Hurricane Ian only and would not apply to future flood damages without further action by the County.

Both of these changes will allow for greater repairs to be done to damaged structures in unincorporated Lee County without running afoul of the 50% Rule.  The permit-by-permit valuation follows a recommendation of the Lee County Building Industry Association (BIA), while the 15% bump in building value is less than the 30-40% encouraged by the BIA.  County staff has noted that 15% is the maximum increase the State Division of Emergency Management seems comfortable with, although other local jurisdictions use a higher percentage.

County staff has indicated that the proposed changes should not affect the County’s eligibility for or rating under the NFIP.  The County currently has a Class 5 rating under the NFIP, which results in a 25% discount to flood insurance policyholders in unincorporated Lee County.

The final determination on both of these factors will be up to the County Commission.  The Commission’s meeting on November 8 starts at 9:30 a.m. and is open to public comment.  The meeting will be held in the Commission Chambers, 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers.  We will update this report after the Commission’s meeting.

Other changes to the County’s flood regulations will also be considered by the LPA and County Commission on November 7 and 8, respectively.  All changes can be found at the following link: