More than half of Volusia County’s seawall rebuilding permit applications not approved

Incomplete applications causing construction delays in wake of Hurricane Ian

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Six months after Hurricane Ian tore through Florida, many homes and businesses are still waiting for state approval to begin rebuilding.

“It’s one of the things you just don’t ever imagine to happen to actually happen,” Alex Barshay said.

Barshay grew up watching his family help run Crabby Joe’s in Daytona Beach Shores.

Now, as the restaurant’s operations manager, he said he is working hard to get back to business.

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Crabby Joe’s sits atop the Sunglow Pier, which was badly damaged by the storm.

Barshay said he is waiting on one key permit before rebuilding can truly begin.

The Sunglow Pier in Daytona Beach Shores lost more than 200 feet of pier when Hurricane Ian hit in September of 2022. (Credit: Volusia County) (Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety)

“The seawall is probably our biggest hang-up,” he said “All of our utilities have to run through the seawall. We’ve gotten (Florida Power and Light) on board, we have a transformer dropped off, but you know, we can’t run an electrical line until the seawalls’ in, and we can’t run a gas line to the seawalls, and we can’t run water.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued an order in December, which relaxes seawall rebuilding rules in Volusia County – allowing more people to apply for permits.

News 6 investigated and found out FDEP received 96 seawall rebuilding permit applications.

Press Secretary Alexandra Kuchta said 37 of the applications have been approved, but 49 of them – more than half – were kicked back and marked incomplete, including the application submitted by Crabby Joe’s.

Those incomplete applications are now resulting in construction delays.

The Sunglow Pier in Daytona Beach Shores was badly damaged by Hurricane Ian, which caused Crabby Joe's to close for months. The seawall was also compromised. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Kutcha said News 6 helped connect FDEP with Barshay’s team to walk them through the documents they still need to complete the seawall permit.

She said once the application is approved, it would probably take seven days to issue the permit.

She said FDEP is willing to speak with other applicants to walk them through the process, as well.

“We have a lot of staff that have said they want to come back,” he said. “I hope they do, but I wouldn’t say anything ill of them for not because you got to move on with life and find careers and income sources.”

“They’re great people to work for,” General Manager Nicole Devane said.

Assistant General Manager Michael Lutrell echoed that sentiment, adding “we couldn’t ask to be employed by better people.”

Lutrell and Devane both stayed on with Crabby Joe’s through the storm damage and rebuilding efforts.

They have even helped their fellow employees who were left without an income.

The Sunglow Pier in Daytona Beach Shores was badly damaged by Hurricane Ian, which caused Crabby Joe's to close for months. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

“You know, it’s just going to pay off,” Devane said. “We do see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re getting closer to our goal.”

Lutrell helped raise more than $42,000 in an online fundraiser, and sales of T-shirts that read “Crabby Strong” are helping to raise even more money.

“It’s coming,” Lutrell said. “We’re almost there. We will get our Crabby Family back.”

FDEP said it’s currently working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to determine which projects in Volusia County can move forward immediately.

Sea turtle nesting season begins on May 1, and there is concern that some of the projects may face further delays as a result.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.