County OKs Updated Flood Ordinance
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to adopt changes to the county's Flood Damage and Prevention Ordinance as recommended by the Planning Board and the planning staff.
Under the amended ordinance, the floodplain maps are changed and some standards have been raised. The higher standards include several added by the Planning Board.
Adoption of the amendments was required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order for county property owners to remain eligible for federal flood insurance.
County Planning Director Andrea Surratt said an updated ordinance will save money for the county in more than one way and may also save lives. She said that it will spare the county expense in cleaning up after floods and also maintain a stable tax base.
"It may seem simple, but it's very important," Surratt said. "Flooding is very hazardous to persons and property."
Surratt added that updating is required from time to time.
In a review of the changes, Surratt said that the county lies within two river basins, the Lumber and the Cape Fear, a factor that complicates the issue because two reviews are required. An estimated 7.5 percent of the county's land is in a floodplain.
Surratt said the new maps were developed with digital technology with a resulting improvement in accuracy and provision of additional data.
An estimated 285 properties in Moore County are covered by flood insurance costing $139,000 a year in premiums and representing $45 million in insured values. Retention of FEMA flood insurance means that insurance is available for property in the floodplain, and the result is expected to represent an average $23 saving per policy a year.
However, the ordinance places restrictions on development of land in the floodplain, and the recommended changes include a number of higher standards proposed by the planning staff and recommended by the Planning Board.
Changes include additional restrictions on new subdivisions, prohibition of manufactured housing in some situations, and restrictions on construction of critical facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes and emergency facilities. It also sets higher standards for building elevation and requires the anchoring of fuel tanks.
"It's a tough situation when you're mandated by regulations," board Chairman David Cummings said. "I don't see that we have any alternative."
Two people questioned aspects of the amendments during the public hearing conducted at the Monday afternoon meeting. They did not object to the concept of the ordinance but raised questions about contradictions and possible inaccuracies in the floodplain maps.
Elton Turner, a 19-year resident of the Lobelia Road area, said he had little confidence in the accuracy of the new maps. He said that the map shows his property as located within the floodplain but there has been no serious flooding in his immediate area. The heaviest rains, he said, were recorded several years ago when Hurricane Fran hit the area.
In addition, Turner said that Woodlake Country Club exercises flood control by changing its dam operations in time of storm or heavy rains.
"This map does not really reflect changes in the last few years," Turner said.
Gerhard Hergenhahn spoke about the appearance of conflicting information in the ordinance as it pertains to areas of Seven Lakes.
Kathy Liles, the planner who directed the flood ordinance study, said the issues raised about Seven Lakes had been addressed in changes made before the measure was brought to the commissioners.
Commissioner Tim Lea asked how much latitude the county has in altering the ordinance.
Liles replied that the language is set by FEMA and there is little opportunity to make changes there. However, she said the county has some options with maps and the setting of higher standards.
Some of the higher standards were recommended as a result of problems that surfaced in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Most of the county's municipalities are adopting the county ordinance by reference. Among them are Robbins and Foxfire, which previously had their own ordinances but are now adopting the county ordinance. The others are Carthage, Cameron, Vass, Taylortown and Pinebluff.
After the discussion period, Lea took a moment to commend Liles and the planning staff for their hard work in developing the amendments and the new maps. Their efforts included a workshop to which planners and other officials representing municipalities were invited.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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