James A. Purpura


The Florida Legislature passed a law in 1971 requiring the establishment of coastal construction setback lines on a county basis along the sand beaches of the State of Florida fronting on the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida's beach areas (valued in $ billions) are being developed at an accelerated rate, however the coastline is in a general state of serious erosion. These factors combine to make implementation of the above law extremely urgent. The Coastal and Oceanographic Department of the University of Florida has a contract with the Florida Department of Natural Resources to furnish a comprehensive engineering study of the various coastal counties of Florida in order to provide the technical information and make recommendations for the establishment of such setback lines. A typical coastal county study is described. The study included historical data related to shoreline stability, field measurements, computations and evaluation of all pertinent factors. Some factors considered were dune elevations, foreshore-offshore slopes, erosion trends, storm surge, vegetation bluff line, wave setup, uprush, coastal structures and upland development. Analysis of the pertinent factors resulted in formulation of criteria that were applied in recommendation of the setback line. The criteria application is described along with adoption procedures as required by law.


setback line; setback line establishment; Florida

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