Pinellas drafts additional policies to address flooding

Pinellas County has identified potential policies to address the reduction of current and future flood risks in its coastal areas. Drafted as a part of the Resilience Planning Grant project and with the help of different stakeholders, the identified draft policies address the Peril of Flood statute requirements.

The policies specifically focus on, reducing current and future flood risks in coastal areas that are caused by situations such as, high-tide events, storm surge and sea level rise. The draft policies were identified through the Resilience Planning Grant project. This effort is funded through a $75,000 grant provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

In 2015, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 1094 titled “An Act relating to the peril of flood,” commonly known as the Peril of Flood act. This new law, which became effective in July of 2015, specifies requirements for a community’s Comprehensive Plan related to coastal flooding and sea level rise. It requires local governments to include a redevelopment component in its Comprehensive Plan’s Coastal Management Element.

This redevelopment component is required to contain principles, strategies and engineering solutions that address flood risks, including those caused by sea level rise. A local government needs to adopt specific policies into its Comprehensive Plan that will help meet these requirements.

Pinellas County’s Comprehensive Plan already includes some policies that are critical to addressing floods. This current effort is meant to identify additional strategies and best practices that can reduce future risks, reduce losses due to flooding and help the county meet the Peril of Flood requirements. As work continues on these policies, input from the public is requested.

Residents can access the draft policies by visiting www.pinellaslms.org.

The Resilience Planning Grant is provided by the state of Florida to promote community-resiliency planning. It supports projects that address risks associated with floods, other disasters and changing coastal conditions.

Pinellas County is one of the 33 communities in Florida that received this grant funding under the state’s Resilient Coastlines Program for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021. This project was initiated in August 2020, and the timeframe for the grant ends on June 30, 2021.

St. Pete-Clearwater airport reports increase in passengers

CLEARWATER — For the first time since the pandemic hit in March 2020, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) has reported its first monthly increase in passengers.

Officials say March domestic traffic was up by 23% over 2020. The first flight cancellation due to the novel coronavirus occurred on March 17, 2020. Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, however, passenger traffic in March this year was down 25% from 2019, which was one of the airport’s busiest months on record.

Allegiant, which is PIE’s principle carrier, has new routes to Portsmouth, New Hampshire beginning in June and Little Rock, Arkansas beginning in May. PIE also has charter flights to Gulfport-Biloxi on Sun Country Airlines for the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. International flights on Sunwing are currently suspended.

A federal mask mandate is in effect in addition to the local Pinellas County ordinance, which requires facial coverings be worn in indoor public places. Federal law requires wearing a mask at all times in and on the airport and failure to comply may result in removal and denial of re-entry. Refusing to wear a mask in or on the airport is a violation of federal law; individuals may be subject to penalties under federal law.

PIE’s Covid-19 Action Plan as well as the latest flight information is available at fly2pie.com.