Floodplain Management

What is floodplain management?

Floodplain management is the operation of a community program of preventive and corrective measures to reduce the risk of current and future flooding, resulting in a more resilient community. These measures take a variety of forms, are carried out by multiple stakeholders with a vested interest in responsible floodplain management and generally include requirements for zoning, subdivision or building, building codes and special-purpose floodplain ordinances. While FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has minimum floodplain management standards for communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which the City does, in 2012 the City of Mary Esther passed a 28 page ordinance adopting requirements at the local level to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flooding through regulation of development in flood hazard areas.

Floodplains and property ownership

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. The fact that you haven’t experienced a flood in the past doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn't based only on history; it's also based on factors such as rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures and changes due to building and development. Knowing your risk and taking action to reduce it will help you recover more quickly after a flooding event.

To reduce your flood risk, you need to know your level of risk. The City of Mary Esther floodplain map can be viewed here. Flood hazard maps show different degrees of risk for your community and help determine the cost of flood insurance. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium. To view a flood map of your specific property, click here.

Flood zones are most commonly defined as X zones, A zones and V zones. 

Moderate to low risk

B and X Zone (shaded): Area of moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the limits of the 100‐year and 500‐year floods. B Zones are also used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100‐year flood, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile.

C and X  Zone (unshaded): Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on FIRMs as above the 500‐year flood level. Zone C may have ponding and local drainage problems that don't warrant a detailed study or designation as base floodplain. Zone X is the area determined to be outside the 500‐year flood and protected by levee from 100‐year flood.

High risk

A Zone:  Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30‐year mortgage. The lowest floor of a building shall be located no lower than one foot above the base flood elevation.

V Zone: Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30‐year mortgage. The lowest floor of a building shall be located no lower than one foot above the base flood elevation.

Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance

Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. From 2010 to 2014 the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $39,000. In 2014, the average flood insurance policy premium was about $700 per year. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from devastating financial loss. For information about purchasing a flood insurance policy for residential or commercial property, even if you are a renter, visit's webpage for valuable information. Remember, there is a 30 day waiting period for new policies. 

Other sources and information

Floodplain maps and other information such as available elevation certificates, building regulations for areas located within a floodplain, stream dumping regulations, and flood proofing your current home or a proposed new home can be obtained by visiting the Planning and Zoning Department located at 195 N. Christobal Road, Mary Esther, FL 32569, by calling 850-243-3566 Ext.16 or by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Links and sources are also provided below.

Are You Flood Smart

Floodplain Map

Flood Zone Designations

Stormwater & Floodplain Management

General Information

To make a complaint please contact (850) 243-3566 extension 16 or fill out the Citizen Complaint Form and mail it to 195 Christobal Rd. N. Mary Esther, FL 32569 or email it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You may also email directly by clicking here
Since 1946, the City of Mary Esther has been a City of its own. Like any City, Town or County, the City of Mary Esther has ordinances and codes that are designed to maintain a healthy, safe and clean environment, carry out land use regulations and policies for building and construction, and preserve the quality-of-life standards that residents and businesses enjoy in our community.

There are many types of ordinances and codes. These can include zoning, fire, uniform building, housing maintenance, property maintenance, parking, and various health and safety ordinances and codes. To be effective and efficient, code enforcement needs the cooperation of residents and businesses.

What is Code Enforcement?
Code enforcement is the act of enforcing a set of rules, principles, or laws and insuring observance of a system of norms or customs. In the United States, those employed in various capacities of code enforcement may be called Code Enforcement Officers, Municipal Regulations Officers, or other various titles depending on their specialization. Per Florida Statute 162.21, a “code enforcement officer” means any designated employee or agent of a county or municipality whose duty it is to enforce codes and ordinances enacted by the county or municipality.

How are ordinances and codes enforced in the City of Mary Esther?
The code enforcement process is typically initiated in two different ways:
• In response to a complaint by an individual or a neighborhood association. (Re-Active Response)
• Inspections and patrolling neighborhoods to ensure voluntary compliance. (Pro-Active Response)

The City performs pro-active inspections and relies on residents to help identify possible ordinance and code violations, particularly in these areas:
• Derelict and inoperative vehicles (flat tires, no license plate, expired registration, missing vehicle parts)
• Encroachments on the public sidewalk due to vegetation, white goods, vehicles, etc.
• Illegal signs such as advertising flyers and portable ground signs placed in the right of way
• Graffiti on public or private property
• Overgrown vegetation above 8 inches for developed property
• Illegal dumping of garbage and debris
• Illegal dumping of oils, sediment, chemicals and other hazardous materials into storm drains
• Overgrown foliage blocking stop signs, impeding sight of driveways or making corners dangerous
• Zoning and occupancy violations
• Housing maintenance violations
• Illegal tree removal
• Construction without a permit

What procedures does the City take when responding to a violation?
When the City receives a complaint about an ordinance or code violation or a violation is found by means of pro-actively patrolling the community, an investigation takes place to determine the validity of the violation. If it is determined that the complaint is valid, the respondent (responsible entity) is given notice of the violation, the corrective action to be taken to bring the violation into compliance, and a specified amount of time that the violation must to be brought into compliance by. Repeat violations and high priority violations such as health and safety violations are given a lesser amount of time for compliance and may have a citation or enforcement hearing summons immediately issued. If the respondent fails to voluntarily come into compliance, additional enforcement proceedings may take place.

What is a Code Enforcement Board and Public Hearing?
The City established the Code Enforcement Board in 2001. The Board is comprised of five (5) members, all of whom are Mary Esther residents from different walks of life. The Board was established to hear cases of municipal ordinance and code violations that were not resolved by voluntary compliance. Public hearings are held for each case that does not come into compliance within the time specified by the Code Enforcement Division. The Code Enforcement Board may order fines to be paid by the respondent with a maximum amount of up to $5000.00 per day and may order an administration fee to be paid of up to compensate the City for actual costs of prosecution. In addition, the board also has the authority to order violations to be brought into compliance by steps deemed necessary by the board. If a fine is not paid or the violation is not brought into compliance, the City has the authority to place a special lien on any real property of the violator and may foreclose on the property after 3 months of the filing of such lien. 

What are the penalties for violating a City ordinance or code?
Violation of any ordinance not stated below
$35.00 for the 1st offense
$75.00 for the 2nd offense
 $150.00 for the 3rd offense
 $250.00 all additional offenses.

Violation of the animal ordinance
$20.00 for the first offense.
$50.00 for the second offense.
$100.00 for the third offense.
$300.00 and mandatory court appearance for the fourth and any subsequent offense.

Violation of the stormwater ordinance
Up to $200.00 per day per occurrence





Do I need a permit to .......?
The answer is probably yes! The City of Mary Esther issues building permits otherwise known as a development order for just about every type of construction. 
All contractors who perform work or provide a service within the City of Mary Esther are required by City Ordinance to obtain a contractor tracking certificate prior to starting any work, providing a service, or applying for a Okaloosa County building or sub permit. This includes but is not limited to re-roofs, general construction, storage buildings and sheds, renovations, new construction, fences, swimming pools, electrical, plumbing, irrigation, pest control, lawn maintenance, painting, general labor and the like.
Permits are issued by the City for all construction, additions alterations, repairs, remodelling; for structures other than buildings including, but not limited to, fencing, swimming pools, signs, parking areas, roofing or re-roofing; television, radio tower and satellite dish installation; docks, boathouses, bulkheads and seawalls; for moving or demolition of buildings or structures.

Plan review fees are required to be paid prior to the review of any plans. The review fees due can be found in the City's fee schedule or within each permit guide listed below.

If your project or scope of work involves a commercial building or commercial business, you will need to contact the Mary Esther Fire Department in addition to the Mary Esther Planning and Zoning Department to obtain the required permits or approval. Even if a permit is issued by the City's Planning and Zoning Department, additional permitting or authorization is required by the MEFD.

The City of Mary Esther has an interlocal agreement with Okaloosa County to perform certain plan reviews and inspections depending on the scope of work. Your project may require you to obtain a County permit in addition to a City permit. Please refer to the permit guides below for the various types of construction which require both a City and County permit.

NOTE: Always call the City of Mary Esther (850) 243-3566 Ext.16 prior to starting any project to insure permitting requirements. Additional permitting and inspections may be required by Okaloosa County Growth Management Department. 1250 N. Eglin Pkwy, Suite 301 Shalimar, FL 32579   Phone: (850) 651-7180   Fax: (850) 651-7058. If other agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFLWMD), Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), etc. require a permit through their agency, the City will not issue its permit until presented with those agencies applicable permit or written authorization. 




Planning and Zoning Department

Building Permit Application

MEFD Process and Procedures for Construction Permit Requests

MEFD Fire Alarm Permit Guide

MEFD Fire Main Permit Guide

MEFD Fireworks Sales Permit Guide

MEFD Non-Sprinkler Fire Suppression System Permit Guide

MEFD Fire Sprinkler Permit Guide

MEFD Site Plan Guide



Are you looking to hold a charitable run, block party, parade or other special event in the City of Mary Esther? If so, you will need to submit a City of Mary Esther special event permit application. Permit applications may be downloaded HERE and submitted to the Planning and Zoning Department. A special event permit guide has been created to help the applicant complete the permit application and to become familiar with the City's policies and regulations for special events.

Stormwater Management

What Is Stormwater?

Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is the use of best management practices (BMPs). In addition, most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage under an NPDES permit.

What Is The NPDES Stormwater Program?

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Program regulates stormwater discharges from three potential sources: municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), construction activities, and industrial activities. Most stormwater discharges are considered point sources, and operators of these sources may be required to receive an NPDES permit before they can discharge. This permitting mechanism is designed to prevent stormwater runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local surface waters such as streams, rivers, lakes or coastal waters.

In October 2000, EPA authorized the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement the NPDES stormwater permitting program in the State of Florida (in all areas except Indian Country lands). DEP's authority to administer the NPDES program is set forth in Section 403.0885, Florida Statutes (F.S.). The NPDES stormwater program regulates point source discharges of stormwater into surface waters of the State of Florida from certain municipal, industrial and construction activities. As the NPDES stormwater permitting authority, DEP is responsible for promulgating rules and issuing permits, managing and reviewing permit applications, and performing compliance and enforcement activities.

What Are The City’s Stormwater Requirements?

Under the FDEP stormwater program, the City of Mary Esther has been granted a MS4 permit to convey and discharge stormwater. Stormwater from the upland areas in Okaloosa County and Fort Walton Beach is conveyed to the City of Mary Esther and ultimately ends up in the Santa Rosa Sound. Because the Santa Rosa Sound is the receiving body of water, there are strict requirements for the discharge of stormwater from residential and commercial properties. The City has an adopted ordinance titled illicit discharge which can be found in Article 11.07.00 in the City’s Land Development Code. This ordinance governs all stormwater discharges within the City limits and has specific requirements for discharge prohibitions, construction sites, post construction and best management practices. By definition, an illicit discharge is any discharge to a municipal separate stormwater sewer system that is not composed entirely of stormwater. Discharge of chemicals, sediment, chlorinated swimming pool water, etc. into the stormwater system are direct violations of the illicit discharge ordinance. Fines for violation of the City’s stormwater ordinance can range up to $5,000.00 for irreparable offenses.

For new construction, the adopted Level of Service for drainage is to retain the first inch of run-off on-site; and post-development run-off shall not exceed pre-development runoff rate for a 25-year storm event, up to and including an event with a 24-hour duration. This helps with keeping the stormwater on site and reduces the risks of flooding. It also helps to recharge our aquifer and cuts down of point and non-point source pollution.


As part of the City’s Illicit Discharge Elimination Program, City employees are trained and educated to identify illicit connections or discharges to the stormwater drainage system. The most common warning signs of illicit discharges are dry weather flow, suds, sewage, oil and gas. The City also has field crews investigating point source discharges (PSDs) as part of their dry weather screening component of the Illicit Discharge Elimination Program. A PSD is an outfall from a drainage system that is characterized as a single identifiable source. A NPSD is a source of pollution that washes from roofs, streets, yards, driveway, sidewalks, and other land areas into water bodies. Any person found to be responsible for an illicit discharge or who does not report an illicit discharge found on their property is in violation of City Codes/Ordinances.

GOAL:   To eliminate discharges introduced into the City’s lake, streams, ponds, sound, and waterways that make up the stormwater infrastructure that are harmful to both people and the environment by public outreach, ordinance enforcement, and best management practices.

PROGRAM FOCUS:   The program focuses on the elimination of improper connections to the storm water system, elimination of illegal dumping into storm sewers, illicit discharges, environmental hazards, procedures, inspections, reports, warning signs, and minimizing the amount of seepage into the storm water system from the sanitary sewer system and septic systems.


·         Illicit Discharge> any discharge (or seepage) to the separate storm water drainage system that is not composed entirely of storm water or uncontaminated groundwater.

·         Illicit Connection> a physical connection to a separate storm water drainage system that primarily conveys illicit discharges into the system and/or is not authorized or permitted by the local authority.

·         Point Source Discharge Pollution> pollution from a single identifiable source.

·         Non-Point Source Discharge Pollution> pollution that washes from roofs, streets, yards, driveways, sidewalks, and other land areas into water bodies.

·         Pollution> contamination of the air, water, or soil by the addition of harmful substances.

INSPECTIONS:   Inspections shall be performed on a regular basis in a manner approved by the department head. All inspections shall be documented and list the date, location, findings, and any debris that have been removed from the stormwater infrastructure. All illicit discharges shall be reported to the department head, stormwater operator, and/or code enforcement division. An inspection shall be made for all reports of an illicit discharge with the appropriate action to follow to remedy the violation. Any person having knowledge of an illicit discharge that has either taken place or is taking place and does not make a report may be an accessory after the fact and held liable for any damages and any violations.    


When the City of Mary Esther has reason to suspect, or receives a complaint or other evidence of an illicit connection or discharge, the following procedures shall be followed:

A. Whenever an employee obtains information in the course of his or her official duties of an illicit discharge or an illicit discharge of a hazardous material which is likely to cause substantial injury to public health or safety, the employee shall immediately report such information to his or her supervisor.

B. Emergency Response: If a employee understands or believes that an illicit discharge may cause or threatens to cause immediate or emergency hazards to responding personnel, the public or the environment, he or she shall immediately call emergency dispatch (911). Response to such an incident shall be performed by the County Health Emergency Response Team or city fire department. In no event shall a city employee perform, or allow others to perform, response activities for which they are not adequately trained.

C. Storm Drainage System Inspection: In the event an illicit discharge which, due to its chemical characteristics, physical characteristics, quantity, or concentration, is not a threat to the health and safety of the responding employee, the responding employee shall, using reasonable and appropriate safety precautions, inspect the storm drainage system in the vicinity of the suspect area to confirm the discharge and identify, locate, and characterize the source and type of discharge. Examples of such discharges include but are not limited to the release of used motor oil, small quantities of paints, paint thinners, and solvents; used antifreeze; and other non-hazardous liquid or solid waste. The inspection shall be documented on the Stormwater System Inspection Report, noting the evidence found of the illicit discharge(s) and of the potential source(s). The location and ownership of the potential source shall be identified on an Assessor’s Parcel Map. The County Health Department shall be notified for all incidents found to involve hazardous materials.

HAZARDS:Illicit discharges are generally any discharge into a storm drain system this is not composed entirely of stormwater. The exceptions include water from fire fighting activities and discharges from facilities already under an NPDES permit. Illicit discharges are a problem because, unlike wastewater which flows to a wastewater treatment plant, stormwater generally flows to waterways without any additional treatment. Illicit discharges often include pathogens, nutrients, surfactants, and various toxic pollutants.

Oil and gas can travel a long way from its original source. It is often seen as sheen on the water. If the sheen is stirred and separated and it reattaches, it is most likely oil/gas. Oil and gas, when dispersed into the environment, is very harmful to the waterways and all life forms within those waterways. Whenever oil/gas is suspected to be in the waterway, a spill kit should be used to contain the contaminants and remove them from the area of pollution.

Grass and other vegetation is not just grass. Vegetation is very rich in nutrients which can cause an increase in algae growth within the body of water of which it is located. Nutrient input can reduce dissolved oxygen levels within a water system which is necessary for biodiversity. In addition, when vegetation, grass, leaves, etc. is dumped into the stormwater system it can cause blockages within the route of the stormwater flow. The vegetation can also be deposited along banks which can kill other vegetation and lead to stability and erosion problems of streams, banks, hills, etc.

Suds and detergents are specifically harmful to fish because suds deplete oxygen levels in the water. Suds can enter any water system where there is a flow of water. This is often a problem when cars are washed on an impervious surface instead of on the front lawn where the water can be absorbed, when a car wash is improperly connected, and when a washing machine has an illicit connection to a water body.

Oil/Gas is recognized as sheen on the water. Natural sheens may be differentiated from oil/gas sheens by swirling the sheen around in the water. If it re-attaches, the sheen is oil/gas. Natural sheens will remain separated. Oil/Gas enters water bodies via storm water runoff (spills while topping off at gas stations, oil leaks on pavement, etc.) and illegal dumping. Sanitary Sewage may be present if there is black staining inside the drainage pipe; visible evidence of sanitary waste, such as toilet paper; or opaque or gray water. Sewage may originate from septic tank overflow pipes or improperly dumped travel trailer waste.
Dry Weather Flow is noted when it has not rained for at least 72 hours   and the storm drain has flow or the drain shows signs of intermittent flow (staining, odor). Suds and Detergents may be harmful to fish because suds deplete oxygen levels in the water. Suds often enter lakes and streams as a result of improperly connected car washes or washing machines.
Improper discarding of GRASS clippings in areas such as gutters, culverts, drains, ditches and streams will result in many problems within that particular setting. Grass clippings contain a large amount of nutrients including phosphorous, which can cause an increase in algae growth within the stream and receiving body of water. Nutrient input can reduce dissolved oxygen levels within a water system, which is necessary for biodiversity. Grass disposal on the banks of ditches or streams can kill vegetation, which degrades bank stability and eventually forms blockages. Grass that is deposited on the ditch bottom can also create flow blockage.  


To Report Violations During Regular Business Hours, Call 850-243-3566 ext.16 Or For Emergencies And Immediate Threats To The Public Health And Safety, Call 850-651-7400.



Jesse Rogers Memorial Cemetery is located on the south side of Highway 98 in Mary Esther, Florida, a block west of Mary Esther Cutoff, at the traffic light for the Target Shopping Center. A gravesite listing is featured below.

An article in the May 25, 1980 Playground Daily News sheds some light on this historic resting place. It described the beautiful cemetery then as "Guarded by tall cypress trees, moss-draped oaks and the waters of Santa Rosa Sound," which still reflects the locale today. A wrought iron fence was added along the northern edge in the 1990s to separate the cemetery from the bustling traffic along U.S. Highway 98.

Jesse Rogers, whose name the cemetery bears, settled along the Santa Rosa Sound in Mary Esther around 1840 with his family and a herd of cattle. The land was "so wild that bonfires were kept burning at night to keep the black bears from devouring the family's pigs." He was in his late 80s when he died in 1888, and was originally buried in a wooded spot that he had chosen near where Hollywood Boulevard and Mary Esther Boulevard intersect. Often referred to as a pirate with a legendary treasure booty, his gravesite was frequented by those hoping to find a fortune. His grandson, J.V. Rogers, quietly moved his remains one night to the old Mary Esther burial ground in an unmarked spot. A group of his descendents later named the cemetery after him.

In 1977 the property was deeded to the City for maintenance and administration. There are numerous old graves, such as one from 1885 of Peter Green, born in 1826 in Nova Scotia. His tombstone reads "Free from care and sin and sorrow, Doubts and fears all passed away. No more night of pain and anguish, but one bright eternal day." Another of an infant, Lela Sikes, born in late 1898 and die the following July 4th, reads "A little time on earth she spent, till God for her His angel sent."

There are no gravesites available at this time for sale, and just a few cremation sites remain. Please contact the Sextant, by phone at (850) 243-3566 ext.16, for further details.

Visitation is from sunrise to sunset, and all are encouraged to be respectful in this sanctuary.




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