The Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board has decided that it doesn’t want to spend $8,000 now for a temporary permit to spray adulticide on Big Pine Key to kill mosquitoes.
That permit would have allowed the district to fire up the spray trucks again on Big Pine Key after an absence of several months.
It appears as though there is to be no Legislative fix this year for the pending drastic increases in flood insurance for some coastal properties.
The federal spending bill currently working its way through the process does not contain language that would delay the pending increase authorized by the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012.
That Act was meant to make the National Flood Insurance Program actuarially sound, according to official NFIP statements, but has had the effect of threatening flood insurance increase, drastic ones, on hundreds of thousands of coastal homes.
Flood insurance is a requirement for a federally backed mortgage. All of Monroe County is in a federal flood plain.
But the reality of the pending increases might not be as dark as once thought, says Sue Cherrybon, agent for Johnson’s Insurance on Big Pine Key.
“The biggest impact will be to homes built prior to January 1, 1975,” she said.
The Sir Isaac Newton Coalition, a loosely-organized group of property owners in the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System service area Thursday morning was expected to file legal action against the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and Monroe County over the two agency’s handling of the sewer collection system.
Walt Drabinski, owner of Pirate Wellness on Cudoe Key and an independent energy consultant with Vantage Consulting, said the action has three immediate goals.
Monroe County officials continue to look at suggestions to increase the size of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System.
This time, they were pitched the idea of adding exclusive resort Little Palm Island to the mix.
According to County Engineer Kevin Wilson, adding Little Palm to the central collection system should be cost neutral.
Monroe County officials decided last week that the era of the all-volunteer fire station in the Keys is going to have to come permanently to a close.
The Board of County Commissioners approved a $475,000 expenditure in the coming fiscal year to place paid firefighting staff at the Sugarloaf Fire Station.
Other than a few months last year, Station 10 has been an all-volunteer force throughout its history.
County Fire Chief Jim Callahan said he recognized potential issues at the station last year when he tried, only partially successfully, to install a paid force at the facility.
He said that the volunteer pool has begun to shrink throughout the island chain and that Sugarloaf could no longer meet reasonable response times.
Then came the annual insurance hazard rating inspection and officials expected this year’s rating to come in at a 10, with one the best. As a result of that possible rating, homeowner’s insurance premiums for those properties covered by Sugarloaf could have “doubled, tripled, maybe even get canceled,” said Callahan.
Due to the station’s label as all-volunteer, the rating didn’t take into account the proximity of Big Coppitt at mile marker 11 and Cudjoe at mile marker 21, said fire board member Kevin Gerard.
The new wastewater collection system for the Cudjoe Regional area will span several bridges along US 1 before its completion in what is expected to be just over two years.
But where the pipes run across those water channels may change as the project progresses.
Though it may be a year or more until property owners inside the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System service area will need to even consider having to hook up their homes to a pipe in the street,the time to start streamlining that process is now.
So says County Mayor George Nuegent, whose District Two seat encompasses all of what will be the Cudjoe Regional from Lower Sugarloaf Key to Big Pine Key.
The county currently has building department offices in Key West, Marathon and Key Largo. For folks on Big Pine, that means a drive of anywhere from 24 miles to 30 miles to apply for what may be a simple over the counter permit.
Homeowners will have to have a plumbing permit from the county to hook their house drain into the sewer mains, or into the grinder pump if they’re on that system. That permit right now is priced at $70. For those who need a separate electrical power supply for the 240-volt, 30-amp exterior service to run the grinder pump, that permit is priced right now at $150.
But people will have to lose the better part of a day to drive from almost anywhere in the Cudjoe Regional service area to a building department office to apply for that permit, wait until it makes the rounds inside the office, if it can be done in one day,and then return to display the permit before any work can start.
Of course, the county’s plumbing permit can’t be obtained until the homeowner has received a septic tank abandonment permit from the Monroe County Health Department Environmental Services section, at a cost expected to be about $90.
“When streets start coming up for hook ins, there are going to be a lot of people at the building counter trying to get the permits and get started,” said Neugent. “To ask them to drive for a half hour or more in any direction and then wait, maybe, is asking them to devote a lot of time.”
Big Pine canals may qualify for that dubious distinction
Once county officials settle on what five canals they plan to use $5 million on for test projects in what is estimated to be a $300 million overall project, most of the test canals will probably be from Big Pine Key.
“At least four of the five worst canals in terms of water quality are all on Big Pine Key,” said County Mayor George Neugent, whose District Two encompasses Big Pine.
County consultants recently completed the initial fact-finding phase of the canal restoration project by visiting each of the island chain’s 502 canal systems.
The ultimate goal was to get down to the five worst canals that fit inside the Board of County Commissioner’s $5 million initial budget.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service last week notified the Federal Emergency Management Agency that it would be reopening required agency consultation on the Biological Opinion that currently guides Monroe County development in potential endangered species habitat.
And by default, that new consultation will also require reopening the Habitat Conservation Plan for Big Pine and No Name Keys.
The reason for the new negotiation is that USFWS recently listed the Miami Blue butterfly as endangered. That rare butterfly is thought to be present in Monroe County and the service didn’t account for the species when it issued the original opinion in 2010.
FWS also plans to list two other butterflies that occur on Big Pine Key and possibly elsewhere in the Keys, and the imminent listing of those species will result in some changes in development restrictions in areas of habitat for the two butterflies.
Big Pine is already embroiled in a battle over the butterflies as USFWS and the Mosquito Control District try to work out a permit to allow mosquito spraying on the largest island in the Lower Keys, which also happens to be home to a majority of the 32 endangered species that call the Keys home.
During Wednesday’s discussion of canal restoration projects by the Monroe Board of County Commissioners, the members seemed to get a little too hung up on ownership of the canals in the Florida Keys.
Like every other geographic feature in the Keys, canal ownership is a mish-mash of public and private, often overlapping on the same street, sometimes meeting in the middle of the canal.
But we believe the argument is simple.
The residential canals of the Florida Keys all, repeat all, feed the near shore waters and thus have an effect on our water clarity and quality.
The problems with water quality in our residential canals are many and long-standing.