Tag Archives: improvement

Old Florida is Disappearing at Anna Maria Island

Old Florida destroyed

What is “Old Florida”?

“Old Florida” is a term people love to use when describing a place that has not been taken over by the development trends of the day. It has been a favorite way to describe Anna Maria Island for many years … both by residents and visitors who truly love the simple charms of the area. It’s also a favorite term of those whose main interest is selling the island to the public. “Old Florida ” is a great marketing slogan.

Unfortunately, even among those who think they love the Old Florida feeling of a place, it is challenging to know how to identify the details that give that feeling. And it’s even more challenging to protect them. Often the details that need to be protected do not sound very glamorous. But getting rid of things that are not glamorous is a sure way to destroy the sense of history and simplicity that are so much a part of Old Florida.

Who wants to argue that an old shack should not be torn down? Especially among those whose main priority is marketing. Who wants to argue against “beautification?” Or replacing an old bridge with a big modern bridge? Or getting rid of invasive, exotic plant species?

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FEMA Rules Change Anna Maria Island

Scraped lot On Anna Maria Island, when you see an empty lot with new construction about to begin, you know the new building will tower over the traditional Old Florida one-story homes in the neighborhood. Why? It’s the law, to some degree, at least. In 1975 FEMA made it mandatory that all new construction place the first living level at a certain specified number of feet above sea level, which means either having to raise the lot with a huge amount of fill, or building the living space on a second and, possibly, third floor. This coincided with the start of government involvement in flood insurance programs. When the government starts ‘taking care’ of you, it starts telling you how to do things.

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