Both the city of Brunswick and the Coastal Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources are attempting to make it easier for area residents to get the necessary repairs done on property following Hurricane Matthew.
Concerned with the extra cost Brunswick residents are incurring and the safety factors involved with making repairs to structures following the storm, the city has decided to waive building permit fees for electrical, plumbing, roofing and mechanical permits.
The Brunswick City Commission voted unanimously during a special-called meeting on Monday to temporarily suspend any fees associated with building permits due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Building permits are still required, but applicable fees related to storm damage will be waived until Dec. 9.
“We’re obviously worried about the extra costs that are affecting the whole community after Hurricane Matthew, so we are waving permit fees for 60 days from Oct. 10 but that doesn’t mean the work has to be finished, it just means you have to have started the process,” said Bren Daiss, planning development and code director for Brunswick.
City officials have been out in neighborhoods around the city assessing damage and have seen more than 200 houses with some kind of damage.
“We just want to emphasize safety and want people to fix things correctly,” Daiss said. “Some of the damages can be fixed by homeowners but we don’t want them to forgo applying for a permit due to cost.”
Permit fees vary depending on the project. To apply for a city building permit, residents have to go to city hall because applications are not being accepted online.
The city also hired an independent debris removal monitoring company.
“We received four bids for the debris removal but only one for debris removal monitoring which was Witt O’Brien’s,” City Manager Jim Drumm said.
Not only is the city doing what it can to help residents, the Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Resources Division initiated an emergency order placing a moratorium on nonessential construction/alterations within the jurisdiction of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) and the Shore Protection Act (SPA). The moratorium is effective immediately and will be in place until further notice.
“High winds, storm surge, and flooding have caused damage to many structures located in Georgia’s tidal waterways, over marshlands and along barrier island beaches,” stated Spud Woodward, director of the Coastal Resources Division. “We know that private, public and commercial docks have been damaged as have beach crossovers on our barrier islands.”
He added, “Our staff will be working with public, commercial and government entities to facilitate a quick recovery from Hurricane Matthew, but we need information about the extent of the damage. We want to focus our efforts on recovery so action on non-essential projects currently in the queue will be delayed.”
CRD staff has set up a call center to gather information about impacts to beach-front property, private docks, bank stabilizations, marinas, commercial docks and other structures along coastal waters, marshlands and beaches. The call center will answer questions about permitting and regulatory processes and needs in areas impacted within the jurisdiction of Coastal Marshland Protection Act or Shoreline Protection Act.
“This process was created to facilitate the need and there are no fee waivers because there are no fees associated with this process,” Coastal Resources Division Manager Karl Burgess clarified.
To be eligible for emergency authorization, requests must be made by Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Questions should be directed to the CRD at 264-7218 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or visit the CRD website at coastalgadnr.org/node/100893.
For more information about Brunswick building permits, call 279-2656.
As for debris removal, the Brunswick City Commission unanimously approved entering into a contract with Ceres Environmental Services, Inc. during a special called meeting on Monday.
“They (Ceres Environmental) are needed because the City of Brunswick does not have the means to clean up all of the debris from the storm in a timely manner,” said Rick Charnock, Brunswick assistant public works director. “We should be receiving money from FEMA that will defray most of the costs.”
Ceres Environmental was chosen through a request for proposal process and is the same company Glynn County uses so it had already been vetted, Charnock said. Ceres will be used on an as needed basis, Charnock added.
There is no fixed amount for the contract, but there are line items with costs associated with them.
Drumm said the city had been trying to put a debris removal company in place for Brunswick since before Tropical Storm Hermine.
The contract will be effective until May 30, 2017.