Property owners and developers challenge FEMA floodplain maps

Agency said to be open to revision requests.

December 15, 2015 |
Property owners and developers challenge FEMA floodplain maps

Flooding in New York City. Photo: Pamela Andrade/Creative Commons.

Communities around the country including New York City, the Massachusetts towns of Marshfield, Scituate, and Duxbury; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Bethany Beach, Del.; New Orleans; and Belvedere, Calif. have challenged Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance rate maps.

The new maps place 80% more New York City homes and businesses in flood zones than the previous set of maps. New York City disputes the new maps and has come up with its own map that takes into account resiliency projects such as hardening of the shoreline. The city’s revised map would remove about 26,000 buildings from flood zones. It wants FEMA to revise federal flood zone maps according to the city’s map.

Builders in New Jersey who have permits that were grandfathered in may still move forward with their projects in flood zones, but are faced with tough decisions. Those who choose to build under outdated flood zone regulations may have their projects undervalued when buyers discover they have to pay high flood insurance premiums. 

Professionals who deal with flood map revision requests say that the agency is open to good faith requests for changes to the maps. The process to get changes passed is a lengthy one, however.

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