Planning & Building




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Hurricane Matthew Recovery

The Planning and Building Department is keenly aware of damage to single family homes resulting from Hurricane Matthew.  The Department wishes to take the following immediate steps to provide some relief to homeowners impacted by the storm:

  • No building permit fees will be charged to homeowners for removal or demolition of storm damaged material from their homes; and
  • No building permit fees will be charged for owner-builder building permits for repair work done to residences for repairs of damage related to Hurricane Matthew; and
  • Dock permits to reconstruct existing docks as they were designed and configured before Hurricane Matthew, will be expedited and issued by the Department; and
  • Because of the State of Emergency created by Hurricane Matthew property owners may reside in a recreational vehicle on their own property for a period of 6 months while there is an active building permit to reconstruct or repair damage created by Hurricane Matthew to the permanent dwelling unit; provided, electricity and sanitation services necessary for the temporary living on-site are available until April 17, 2017; and
  • Homeowners who must apply to the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) for a Certificate of Demolition for their home because of damage associated with Hurricane Matthew will not be required to pay a filing fee.

The following information is provided by the City Planning and Building Department to help citizens with some basic planning and permitting questions and information.  Please call our office with more detailed and specific questions at (904) 825-1065.

Building and Code Enforcement
Be aware of unlicensed and uninsured individuals, handymen or contractors offering construction or repair services!  This may be a costly mistake!

Always use a state or local licensed contractor, ask for a copy of their license, and proof of workers’ compensation insurance, and a release for any work once it is paid!  You may need certain documentation, permits and proof of work for future claims.

Permits are still required for work that required a permit as before the storm.

Homeowners can remove drywall, and make repairs, but a permit is required to put in new drywall, and any associated electrical and plumbing work.  A permit is also required for any roofing, structural, and mechanical work.

Fence panels can be reinstalled, but new fencing or rebuilding a fence requires a building permit.

Building code requirements related to “substantial damage” and “substantial improvements” are in place which may require specific documentation, including meeting building codes for special flood hazard areas, elevating the structure, and complying with other building code requirements.  Elevation certificates and free market values of structures may be required before improvements can be made or permits can be issued.

Unless the tree was damaged during the storm, tree removal permits, rules and regulations apply.

Keep structures safe and secure as best as you can!

Planning and Zoning
All Planning and Zoning code allowed uses, limitations, and requirements are still in place.

Zoning setbacks and lot coverage requirements must be met based on the zoning of a property, unless a nonconforming building is rebuilt with the same footprint within one (1) year of the damage.  An existing survey may be required to demonstrate the existing conditions of the site.

The City’s lot aggregation rule still applies!  In that if multiple lots were developed together they cannot be divided and developed separately unless each lot or piece of lots meet the minimum lot size requirements of the zoning district.

Signs can be replaced according to the sign code, and any applicable preapproved guidelines.

Historic Preservation
All permitting requirements related to preapproved items and permits, and the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) requirements in the downtown and for historic structures remain in place. 

Demolition, partial demolitions, and substantial improvement implications for historic structures and structures 50 years old or older considered historic by definition will be reviewed accordingly by staff and the HARB.

To learn more about disaster mitigation for historic properties see the following resources:

Business Impacts
The City is aware of potentially significant impacts to our businesses, especially small businesses, and will assist in any way we can.  There are programs available to help small businesses, for example low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Other Impacts
As of October 17, 2016 the area has been declared a “Presidentially declared disaster area” this allows certain types of assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), such as, temporary housing, repair, replacement, and other needs, please visit the website at or contact the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing impaired). 

Other private and public agencies are providing assistance as well.  St. Johns County has information for Disaster Relief Assistance and SHIP relief assistance at (904) 827-6898, if your call is not answered, please leave a message and staff will return your call as soon as possible.

Questions have been received regarding flood zone locations. If you are interested in finding your property's flood zone, please see the following link with the FEMA Flood Hazard Zones and is searchable by address: