Environmental Services

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Mission Statement:

“To achieve a successful balance of economic sustainability and environmental stewardship through careful planning, compliance with environmental regulations and respect for all aspects of nature.” 


Florida Green Local Government Designation (FGLG):

In December 2011, the City of North Port's Green Team achieved the Florida Green Local Government designation at the Gold level, the highest level of achievement currently offered by the FGLG program's sponsor, the Florida Green Building Commission. The City is only one of 16 municipalities in the State to be accorded this honor. Completing the FGLG application required the City to provide documentation of programs and incentives for natural ecosystem preservation, energy and water conservation, and educating residents in “green living” practices. 


Wetland Protection

Wetlands are areas where water covers soil all or part of the time. Wetlands are important because they protect and improve water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitats, store floodwaters and maintain surface water flow during dry periods.

The City of North Port Unified Land Development Code Chapter 49 – Wetlands Protection Regulations is in place to protect its natural resources including wetlands.  To confirm whether there is a wetland or not, a wetland survey should be performed by a qualified environmental firm competent in wetland determinations. 

Before the issuance of a land clearing or building permit for any activity that impacts a wetland, all required Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) or Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) and U.S. Army Corporation of Engineers (USACOE) permits shall be obtained, when necessary, and provided to the City. In the case where a State or Federal permit is not necessary, a copy of an exemption letter shall be presented to the City prior to the issuance of a land clearing or building permit.  Activities that impacts a wetland includes filling of the wetland to construct a structure(s), dredging to create a pond or drain the wetland, clearing  of vegetation/trees, and activities that adversely affecting the hydroperiod of the wetland.

  • For a very preliminary, cursory evaluation of the possibility of a wetland on a parcel, a wetland database layer is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) at https://www.fws.gov/wetlands/data/Mapper.html. This NWI database in not always representative of the actual wetland on site. A field survey by a qualified Environmental firm is highly recommended to determine the presence of wetlands.
  • The NWI layer is also available on the same flood web application as the City’s webpage on FEMA Flood Map Updates.Click here for a quick link to this web application. Select the wetland layer under the layer’s list icon in the top right corner. Zoom in until the layer shows up. Click anywhere on the property to bring up a dialog box. Click the small black triangle in the top of the dialog box provide further information on the layers that are turned on.
  • A U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), soils layer is also available within the flood web application the City’s webpage on FEMA Flood Map Updates. Click here for a quick link to this web application. Select the soils layer in under the layer’s list icon in the top right corner. A “Depressional” type soil is an indicator that wetlands may be present and is a good cursory evaluation tool.
  • If wetlands are present on site, a formal determination (FD) of the landward extent (boundaries) of the wetlands and its associated 25ft buffer and other surface waters as defined by Chapter 62-340, F.A.C. must be provided to the City.
  • The area of wetland and acreage impacted by the proposed development must be clearly shown on the wetland survey. Any destruction of the wetland and its associated 25ft buffer will need to be approved with a permit by State and Federal agencies. Wetland mitigation may be required either through purchase of credits from wetland mitigation bank or through creation of equivalent wetlands on the property. The qualified environmental firm competent in wetland determinations can provide more information and costs of wetland mitigation. 

Mangrove trimming rules:

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reminding Floridians that trimming a dead mangrove requires the same review and authorization as a healthy living mangrove, and mangroves that appear to be dead may not be removed without a permit.

The record cold weather this winter affected some of Florida’s mangrove areas as temperatures dropped below normal for extended periods of time. The temperature drops may have caused some mangroves to die. However, many trees that appear dead may still be alive and it may take them a couple of months to begin to recover.

Mangroves, both living and dead, provide organic material used as food and habitat structure that supports most of Florida’s commercial and recreational fisheries. Mangroves trap nutrients and support all types of communities from small insects to large wading birds, fish and seagrass. Mangroves also buffer storms by reducing wind and wave action, and they physically stabilize shoreline sediments. 

Authorizations to trim mangroves are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. For further information, please contact the DEP’s Southwest District Office, 13051 Temple Terrace, FL 33637, (813) 632-7600.

"Mangrove Trimming Guidelines for Homeowners" offers more information on the importance of mangroves in our environment.

For more information about mangroves and how to protect them, please visit the DEP's Mangrove webpage. DEP is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. DEP enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. For more information about the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, visit www.dep.state.fl.us.


Myakka River Protection:

The North Port Board of Commissioners recently adopted the State-Local Agreement for the Myakka River Wild & Scenic Protection Zone.  The Agreement provides for interagency coordination between the City, Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Community Affairs for that portion of the Myakka River Protection Zone (MRPZ) within the City of North Port.  The Myakka River Protection Zone Map may be viewed by clicking here. On September 22, 2008, the City Commission passed Ordinance No. 2008-36, by which the City agreed to review land use within the Myakka River Protection Zone in coordination with other agencies.

Summary of Ordinance No. 2008-36 (Myakka River Wild & Scenic River)

The primary means of protection afforded by the State-Local Agreement is the Myakka River Wild & Scenic Protection Zone. To view a diagram that illustrates how the MRPZ affects a typical structure, click here.

To view a diagram that
Primary Prohibited Uses within the 220-foot MRPZ are:

  • Commercial;
  • Professional Office;
  • Townhouse or Multi-family Residential; and
  • All Heavy and Light Industrial.

Primary Prohibited Activities are:

  • Development within the 50-foot Myakka River Area Buffer and wetlands;
  • Native vegetation removal within the MRPZ without written approval; and
  • Earthmoving within 150 feet of the River Area Buffer unless previously authorized and permitted by the City.

Primary Permitted Activities are:

  • Construction of Primary and Accessory Structures landward of the 150-foot setback area;
  • Sewage disposal systems located landward of the Primary Structure;
  • Removal of invasive exotic plant species, poison ivy, nettles and sandspurs throughout the MRPZ;
  • Removal of native vegetation to provide a fire protection clear zone around a Primary Structure, to provide access to a permitted dock or pier, or to provide a “view window” to the River that is co-aligned with a trail or path;
  • Public utility and drainage projects as authorized by the City;
  • Road and utility crossings; and
  • Public recreation, i.e., benches, elevated patios, decks, walkways, caged or non-caged swimming pools, gazebos (up to 400 square feet in floor area) and boat docks.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Any development or environmental project within the MRPZ requiring permitting by the City (excluding single-family homes) must proceed through the City’s Site Development Review (SDR) process.


Scrub Jay Lots: 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has conducted a survey of City of North Port parcels that contain scrub jay habitat. To learn more about Scrub-Jay Preservation and Land Use, click here.  Updates to this information will be posted as soon as they are available.


Gopher Tortoise Protection:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission  recently increased protection for the Gopher Tortoise.  The Gopher Tortoise has been uplisted to a “threatened” species.  No longer will entombment be a legal option for mitigation in the State of Florida.

Builders, before you begin clearing for a building project, you must obtain a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, if either tortoises or their burrows are present on the development site. Click here for further information.

For more information about Environmental Services, please contact:

Elizabeth Wong
Stormwater Manager
(941) 240-8321
ewong@cityofnorthport.com

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