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Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance Update

Earlier this year, Jacksonville Beach City Council passed the Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance (No. 2020-8140)  to ensure the health and safety of our local sea turtle population. This ordinance puts regulations in place for all residences and businesses within 500 feet of the Atlantic Ocean. City staff has thus far been working with residents and businesses to update lighting in order to be permissible with the ordinance. Starting on November 20, citations will be issued for lighting that violates the ordinance.

Lighting Standards for existing development:

Existing development improvement plans that are submitted to the City shall include certification that the plans comply with this article prior to issuance of a permit.  Existing development which has secured a coastal construction control line permit or joint coastal permit from the Department of Environmental Protection which includes a lighting review for marine turtle protection will be deemed to have complied with the provisions of this article. In order to provide protection for nesting marine turtles and their hatchlings during marine turtle nesting season while maintaining lighting standards necessary for public safety and security, the following standards are adopted for artificial light sources on all existing developments and existing structures that are visible from the beach, and shall be in compliance with the following within six (6) months of the effective date of the ordinance.

(1)     The following measures shall be taken to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of existing exterior artificial lighting so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of a light fixture is not directly visible from the beach:

a.         Reposition fixtures so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is no longer directly, indirectly, or cumulatively visible from the beach.

b.         Replace fixtures having an exposed light source with fixtures containing recessed light sources or shields.

c.         Replace non-directional fixtures with directional fixtures that point down and away from the beach.

d.         Replace fixtures having transparent or translucent coverings with fixtures having opaque shields covering an arc of at least one hundred eighty (180) degrees and extending an appropriate distance below the bottom edge of the fixture on the seaward side so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach.

e.         Replace pole lamps with low profile, low level luminaries so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach.

f.          Replace incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity lighting with the lowest wattage long wavelength light sources for the specific application.

g.         Plant or improve vegetation buffers between the light source and the beach to screen light from the beach.

h.         Construct a ground-level barrier to shield light sources from the beach when possible. Ground-level barriers must not interfere with marine turtle nesting or hatchling emergence, or cause short-or long-term damage to the beach/dune system.

i.          Permanently remove or permanently disable any hood or fixture which cannot be brought into compliance with the provisions of these standards.

j.          Existing artificial light fixtures shall be repositioned, modified, redesigned, or removed so that: (a) The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach or frontal dune; (b) Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not directly or indirectly illuminated; and (c) Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not cumulatively illuminated.

To view the complete ordinance, click here.

If you have questions on whether this affects your residence or business or how to properly update your lighting, contact George Knight, Chief Building Official, and 904-247-6282 or gknight@jaxbchfl.net.

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