Since October 2012 the City of Cape Coral had been delayed in being able to issue permits for seawalls due to the Army Corps of Engineers having to to approve the seawalls because of the endangered fish called the smalltooth sawfish. The seawall permits that usually would take less than a week to get issued were being delayed between 3-18 months. Now though the Army Corp of Engineers said it expects to reissue a permit that would allow projects to begin flowing again, with a few restrictions.
Under a solution that could be in place as soon as the end of March, the new process would include a 10-day period in which NOAA Fisheries could comment on permit applications, said Tunis McElwain, with the Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Myers Regulatory Office.
The new rules could also call for a ban on the use of impact hammers for the installation of metal piling, said Shelley Norton, the sawfish and Johnson seagrass coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.
Four new noise restriction zones could be added as well to restrict impact hammering of pilings between March 1 and June 30. “That’s when the mother sawfish are coming in to pup, to give birth,” Norton said.
Gulf access lot owners that had plans to install seawalls during the usual busy winter season in Cape Coral had been hampered by the delays in the permitting process. The gulf access home market has become very active with price increases in sales and listings as transactions for both vacant gulf access lots as well as gulf access homes has increased significantly from a few years ago as we recovered from a real estate recession.