Panhandle Building Codes May Face Revision

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The three major storms that hit south Florida last year caused billions of dollars, and many people say if Florida hadn't passed tougher building codes in the 90's, the damage would have been even more costly, but the Panhandle received an exemption from many of these new rules.

After he saw the damages Hurricane Dennis caused across the Panhandle, Florida House Speaker Allan Bense says it's time for a change.

"I’m gonna encourage members of the Florida Legislature, someone might wanna bring a bill up, and let’s have a good public debate, and let’s take it to the committee process and see what the feedback is.”

Most Florida homes one mile or more from the coast are required to have shutters or impact resistant glass. It's called the wind-blown debris code. When lawmakers passed the code they exempted the Panhandle.

Allan Bense says, "A lot of that was based upon the fact that we didn't have as many hurricanes that hit the Panhandle as other parts of the state. Well, I think we've proven that’s not the case any more, so I think it's time, as a legislator, we revisit that issue.”

State Senator Charlie Clary of Destin was the main supporter for the Panhandle exemption. He said he isn't opposed to discussing a change, but doesn't believe it's necessary.

Charlie Clary, (R) Destin, says, "We're finding that building codes in northwest Florida have performed extremely well.”

The State Building Commission has been studying the effects of wind damage in the Panhandle since last year's Hurricane Ivan. Any changes to the current exemption most likely will be pitched at the next legislative session.