President Donald Trump on Tuesday afternoon signed legislation that included an amendment removing some 40 acres in Gulf County from a Coastal Barriers Resource Act (CBRA) zone.
The bill, a lands package combining some 100 pieces of legislation that came out of the U.S. Senate, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives two weeks ago.
The amendment from Sen. Marco Rubio, included in the lands package, removed land and about 40 structures in the Cape Breezes subdivision and a small portion of Billy Joe Rish State Park.
Rubio’s amendment included a map that was inadvertently left out of a bipartisan House bill sponsored late last year by Congressman Neal Dunn (R-North Florida) and two other congressmen.
Rubio included the map, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and language to remove the acreage.
The removal of the 47 acres is seen as a crucial step for the county, which has been lobbying for two decades to overturn the CBRA designation for some 900 acres along coastal south Gulf County.
Gulf County officials have long argued that more than 900 acres were rolled into CBRA even though existing infrastructure should have precluded such action.
Separately, Dunn has sponsored a bill which is in committee that includes language mandating the removal of the CBRA designation from much of the unit that encompasses south Gulf County.
This is by far the most progress the county has made in its ongoing CBRA battle.
CBRA was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan and aims to preserve barrier islands by barring the use of federal funds and financial assistance, the aim to constrain development.
Changes require Congressional action.
Two previous congressmen, Allen Boyd and Steve Southerland, filed bills seeking to partially or in whole remove the CBRA designation in Gulf County.
The full House had never taken up a bill and the Senate had never had legislation in front of it impacting CBRA.