Village Considers Flood Damage Prevention Programs
Pinehurst property owners could see lower homeowners insurance premiums if the village enters into additional Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved flood damage prevention programs.
Whether such an effort by Pinehurst would be cost-effective remains to be seen, but Planner Bruce Gould told the Village Council Tuesday at its work session that he is already looking into the CRS (Community Rating System) that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has as an option.
Gould told council members that the CRS gives local communities points for doing certain things above and beyond simply administering the flood plain maps and ordinances written and mandated by the state and federal governments.
Early warning systems and public education could qualify as acceptable strategies that would not only help save property and lives but eventually allow homeowners to be eligible for favorable insurance rates, Gould said.
Planners from several Moore County towns have begun meeting at the county planning offices in Carthage "to see how we can better the situation for everyone and be more than flood plain ordinance administrators," Gould said.
The council has held public hearings on updated flood plain ordinances and flood plain boundary maps. The council has to adopt the map to remain eligible for the national Flood Insurance Program and to remain eligible for disaster mitigation funding from FEMA.
A public hearing was held in the Assembly Hall on an amendment to the Pinehurst Develop-ment Ordinance required by new state and federal regulations.
The council then voted at the work session to enact a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance model ap-proved by the state. It incorporated two changes.
One would prohibit some "noxious" land uses as landfills and junkyards to be located within flood plains, and the other would prohibit new single-family residential lots to be platted within designated flood plains.
The council also adopted a flood insurance rate map.
The updated flood plain map and related ordinances show areas that require special construction standards, such as requiring that they be built higher off the ground than ordinary construction, to avoid flooding.
If residents build in a flood plain, as was done before Pinehurst became an incorporated municipality, they can still get flood insurance, Gould said in a later telephone interview.
They can't get insurance if they build in a "flood way," which is the likely path of moving floodwaters that would pose more of a danger to property and life, he said.
Pinehurst has both flood plains and flood ways, said Gould in a later telephone interview.
Bodies of water in the village's jurisdiction that have flood plains include Lake Pinehurst, the lakes at The Country Club of North Carolina and Pinehurst No. 6, and a stream running through Rassie Wicker Park that could flood McKenzie and McCaskill Roads. That could obstruct emergency vehicles from making it through on those two roads and prevent the evacuation of individuals.
"I hope we can come up with some early warning system," Mayor Pro Tem George Hillier said.
An early warning system can automatically and quickly contact every household and building within a town or county, but Pinehurst hasn't got the data or the infrastructure in place to implement it.
Hillier added that "severe water problems can be in nondesignated 100-year flood plain areas, too."
Referring to the recent chemical plant explosion and fire in Apex, which required a mandatory evacuation of residents, Doug Middaugh said during the public-comment period that Pinehurst needs to have an emergency disaster plan.
He urged the village, Aberdeen and Southern Pines to inventory any chemical sites within their city limits and then share the information with the other towns.
"It would be beneficial if the three communities that are so close together knew what each other had," he said, noting that in Aberdeen there is at least one chemical plant on N.C. 5.
Also on Tuesday, the council adopted a resolution honoring retired Air Force Lt. General William Thurman for his service as chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board. He has served two three-year terms. His term expires Oct. 31.
Under the board's bylaws, members can serve only two consecutive terms and can't be immediately reappointed.
The council appointed board member Art Chalker, a Pinewild resident, as the new chairman. Chalker serves as the only extraterritorial representative on the board, nominated by council and appointed by the Moore County Commissioners.
His new appointment as chairman runs through May 31, 2008.
Chalker thanked the council for the appointment, promising "to work diligently and harmoniously, to see that things go in the right direction."
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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