Live Oak —
The Suwannee County Planning and Zoning Department has seen increased numbers in business since Tropical Storm Debby visited Live Oak in late June. The storm brought a deluge of rainfall to this historic city that saw seven feet of water in downtown, wiping out many roads and flooding homes and businesses.
Since June, tremendous efforts have begun to restore the city by many of the local agencies. The Planning and Zoning Department has been assisting residents by pulling permits, and they’re seeing record-high numbers.
In the first five months of this year, the zoning department issued 267 permits. Since June, the department has issued 294 permits, showing a remarkable increase from the first part of the year.
The department performed a total of 846 inspections from January until the end of May, averaging 169 inspections per month. After the devastation of Debby, zoning performed 793 inspections during the months of June until September, averaging 198 per month.
Planning and Zoning Department reports that 282 permit applications were processed from January until May. From June until September, the total rose to 295.
“For total permits, that include re-roofs, electrical change outs, remodeling and RV’s, our total for June was 41 and for July it went to 81,” stated Suwannee County Planning and Zoning Director Ron Meeks. “Eighty one permits for July were the highest total permits issued per month since 2007.”
The department saw booming numbers in the early 2000s but those numbers steadily dwindled down, due to economic woes. That was until Debby came along. With much of the city affected by the storm in some way, it has kept the staff on the go, working efficiently to meet the needs of the people.
Some county residents who suffered storm damage were granted assistance from FEMA which allowed the Planning and Zoning Department to waive fees.
“If there was some damage and they had a claim number from FEMA, we could waive the permit fees,” said Meeks. “Whatever they ruled, it was then turned over to us to issue permits for repair or inspection if needed. If 50 or more percent of the house or building was damaged, it would be considered a total loss. Even if the damage was significant, most of the residents and business owners sought for ways to repair instead of replacing their dwelling place.”