Construction in unincorporated area of Galveston County for repair/reconstruction to structures due to damage from Hurricane Ike

 

This information is intended to provide an introduction to permitting requirements that may apply to repair/reconstruction of structures located within the unincorporated areas of Galveston County, Texas, for damage resulting from Hurricane Ike.  Questions regarding permitting should be directed to the County Building Official (who is located in the Office of the County Engineer).  The phone number to the County Engineer’s Office is (409) 770-5554.  The Galveston County Commissioners’ Court has authorized a waiver of building and development fees that would otherwise be assessed by Galveston County for repairs/reconstruction to structures damaged from Hurricane Ike for a period of 120 days after September 13, 2008.   Please contact the Galveston County Health District for information on fees relating to septic systems or other types of on-site sewage facilities (OSSFs).  The number to the Environmental Health Services division of the Health District is (409) 938-2411.

 

This introduction is divided into three subjects.  Depending on the location of your property, the extent of damage to your structure, and whether you have a septic system/OSSF, your repair/reconstruction may be subject to one, two, or all three areas of regulation (the subjects are not mutually exclusive).

 

1.   Floodplain regulations (property located within FEMA 100-year floodplain)

 

Construction in areas located within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 100-year floodplain known as the A or V Zones is subject to the Regulations of Galveston County, Texas for Flood Plain Management (2002) (County Floodplain Regulations), which were adopted pursuant to requirements of federal law.

 

You may obtain a copy of the County Floodplain Regulations by contacting the County Engineer’s Office.  A pdf copy is available by clicking on this link below:

 

County Floodplain Regulations

 

Galveston County will be doing a damage assessment survey to initially categorize damage to structures within 3 categories.  Categorization is subject to change upon inspection.  The initial survey will categorize damage to structures within three (3) categories – namely, Category 1, Category 2, or Category 3.  Category 1 reports that no damage is observed to the structure.  Category 2 observes non-substantial (some) damage.  Category 3 reports the structure is potentially substantially damaged.

 

Initial categorizations relate to subsequent permitting requirements and to the release of power for the structure.  If the initial survey reports the structure as Category 2, then the County will issue a permit per the County Floodplain Regulations for repair and release permanent power after GLO, Health District, and Entergy requirements are satisfied. 

 

If the initial categorization lists the structure as within Category 3, potentially substantially damaged (50% or more of market value as based on GCAD value), a detailed inspection must be performed to determine if the structure is in fact substantially damaged.  If the structure is substantially damaged, the property owner will be required to submit plans showing that the structure will be reconstructed to current elevation requirement.  Floodplain elevation requirements vary depending on where the property is located.  It is anticipated that inspections will begin on Bolivar Peninsula on or about October 27th.  Due to the high number of Category 3 structures, it may take 3 to 6 weeks to complete detailed inspections in unincorporated areas of the peninsula and the mainland. 

 

2.   Beach/Dune Rules (property on Bolivar Peninsula within 1,000 feet of mean high tide of the Gulf of Mexico)

 

Construction on property located within 1,000 feet of mean high tide of the Gulf of Mexico is subject to permitting requirements promulgated under Chapter 61 of the Texas Natural Resources Code (the Open Beaches Act) and Chapter 63 of the Texas Natural Resources Code (the Dune Protection Act).  Pursuant to these State laws, the General Land Office (GLO) has adopted implementing regulations pertaining to construction in areas covered under the statutes.  The GLO regulations are located at Title 31, Chapter 15, Subchapter A, of the Texas Administrative Code and are commonly known as the GLO Beach/Dune Rules or the Beach/Dune Rules.  As well, pursuant to State requirements, the County has an adopted Galveston County Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan (2006), which applies to construction in such areas.  All GLO issues will need to be cleared before building permits can be issued for construction on property on Bolivar Peninsula in areas within 1,000 feet of mean high tide.

 

The GLO adopted Emergency Rules 15.17 and 15.18 to help expedite permitting for the repair of structures damaged by Hurricane Ike.  These Emergency Rules became effective on September 12, 2008 and remain effective for a period of 120 days from September 12, 2008.  Emergency Rule 15.17 relates to emergency repairs for the stabilization of structures damaged by Hurricane Ike.  Emergency Rule 15.18 relates to emergency measures for dune restoration and for existing shoreline protection projects for littoral property impacted by Hurricane Ike.  The GLO also issued a bullet-point summary of the emergency rules. 

 

The GLO subsequently issued two more Emergency Rules (which affect an amendment and add to the prior Emergency Rules).  The GLO issued a press release on October 8, 2008 announcing these further changes (which relate to ground level enclosures and the use of clay fill under the footprint of a residential structure).  The GLO’s website for coastal issues is www.glo.state.tx.us/coastal.html.  A pdf of GLO information is available from this page as follows:

 

Copy of GLO Bullet-Point Summary on Emergency Rules
 

Copy of GLO Emergency Rules 15.17 and 15.18

(pp. 8101-8105, September 26, 2008 edition of the Texas Register)

 

Copy of GLO October 8, 2008 Press Release

(announcing amendment to Emergency Rule 15.17)

 

Copy of GLO Emergency Rule 15.19

(filed on October 7, 2008 for publication in Texas Register)

Copy of GLO Emergency Rule 15.20

(filed on October 8, 2008 for publication in Texas Register)

 

Copy of GLO Emergency Rules 15.19 and 15.20 from publication
(pp. 8698-8700, October 24, 2008 edition of the Texas Register)
 

 

A pdf of the County’s Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan is available by clicking on the links below (due to the document’s size, two links are provided – one with the plan, but without its appendices, and the other with the appendices):

 

Galveston County Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan (minus appendices)

 

Appendices to Galveston County Dune Protection and Beach Access Plan

 

3.   Septic system/OSSF regulations (properties with structures serviced by septic systems)

 

A septic system is an on-site sewage facility (OSSF).  OSSFs are regulated by the State of Texas; the State agency with oversight on OSSFs is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  The Galveston County Health District is an authorized agent of the TCEQ.  Permits to construct, alter, repair, extend, or operate an OSSF require a permit from the Health District.  Statutory requirements for OSSFs are found primarily in Chapter 366 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.  TCEQ implementing regulations are located at Title 30, Chapter 285, Subchapter A of the Texas Administrative Code.  The Health District also has an order regulating OSSFs, the Order of the Galveston County Health District Adopting Rules for On-Site Sewage Facilities.  Questions on permitting and fees for OSSFs should be directed to the Environmental Health Services division of the Health District, at phone number (409) 938-2411.  Information on OSSFs is also available from the Health District’s website, www.gchd.org (click on Environmental Health).  A copy of the Health District’s Order is available through its website, and a pdf is available through this page by clicking on the link below:

 

Health District’s Order regulating OSSFs

 

Clearance from the Health District on septic systems will be required before a permit may be issued by the County Building Official on those structures serviced by a septic system. 

 

The Health District advises that each person required to obtain a permit from the County Building Official will be required to contract with a certified septic system installer to review the condition of the existing septic system at the property.  A listing of various septic system installers is available for viewing at website:  www.gchd.org/ech/installer-List.pdf.  

 

If the installer’s written report shows the septic system is sound, then the Health District will allow the septic system to be used in the future provided that the structure that the septic system services is not enlarged beyond the structure’s original size.  However if the installer’s written report shows significant enough damage to the septic system such that the system will have to be re-permitted, then the septic system will be required to come into compliance with current septic system requirements.  Finally, the Health District advises that care should be taken when parking vehicles or travel trailers to avoid parking on top of existing septic systems (which may damage the system, thus potentially requiring the installation of a new system).