New rules coming for flood plain
By Dennis Hill
Published in News on August 11, 2005 1:48 PM
A proposed revision of the Wayne County flood ordinance would require new buildings in the county flood plain to be constructed a foot higher to avoid flood water.
The existing ordinance requires buildings to be built one foot above the anticipated level of a 100-year flood. Under the new guidelines, buildings would have to be two feet above the flood-water level.
The proposal was prompted by new flood-plain maps drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The county's flood ordinance was adopted in the early 1990s so that property owners could obtain flood insurance. Areas that do not have building requirements in place to minimize flood damage that meet FEMA standards are not eligible for flood insurance.
The existing ordinance was based on maps drawn more than 20 years ago.
FEMA officials have redrawn maps showing the areas in the state that are likely to come under water during major floods, such as the one that followed Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
The Wayne County Planning Board received a draft of the revised ordinance at its meeting Tuesday.
County Planning Director Connie Price said the new maps would require Wayne to adopt the changes if it is to continue to be a part of FEMA's emergency response program.
"These are much better maps than what we had before," Price said.
There are two major designations of land in the flood map. Areas in the floodway are the lowest-lying areas that would come under immediate flooding. No construction is permitted in the floodway. The flood plain includes land that is slightly higher than the floodway. Construction in the flood plain is permitted, with restrictions.
The new maps designate some areas of the county not previously included in the flood plain as flood-prone, meaning construction in them would have to meet the higher restrictions. Existing structures would not have to meet the new guidelines, Price said, but new construction would.
"Basically anything that had water after Floyd came through here is now in the flood plain," Price said.
"There are some additional areas that weren't previously in the flood area, like off of Berkeley Boulevard behind Lowes," he said. "And there were some streams in the county along Buck Swamp that weren't in the flood plain and now they are."
The revised ordinance is designed to correspond with state and federal regulations regarding flood prevention.
After the planning board reviews the proposed changes to the ordinance, they will be sent to county commissioners. A public hearing on the proposed changes is required before the commissioners can vote on the issue.
A copy of FEMA's new flood-plain map can be viewed at ncfloodmaps.com.
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