Recommended Development Criteria for Coastal High Hazard Areas


Location: Gulf Shores – Baldwin County, Alabama

Client: City of Gulf Shores, AL

Tasks: Evaluate the criteria used in reviewing State-mandated Environmental Impact and Natural Hazards Studies (EINHS) submitted to the City for Gulf-front development; develop standardized model criteria for wave height analyses in the studies; develop guidelines for coastal construction related to potential beach storm erosion effects and draft revisions to City Ordinances for implementation of those guidelines.


Olsen Associates, Inc., as the coastal engineering consultant to the City of Gulf Shores, AL, was tasked with reviewing (EINHS) ‘wave-height’ studies for Gulf-front development (principally condominium projects).  Study submittals had previously been quite varied, from rudimentary to excessively complex.  In 2003-2004, OAI reviewed the studies and the current methodologies available to assess beach erosion and potential storm impacts to upland development.  OAI recommended the consistent use of the SBEACH storm profile model and developed operating parameters and synthetic storm surge/storm wave data for use by future applicants.

As part of the study ,OAI investigated several design parameters considered for potential inclusion in the City Ordinances, including design issues regarding the length of piles used in residential development, effects of local scour during storms, and the burial depth of pile caps for condominiums.  These changes were subsequently codified in the City Ordinances. 

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