Flood map approved

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hundreds of property owners in Suffolk are affected by a new floodplain ordinance the City Council approved on Wednesday night.

Faced with a federally imposed Nov. 16 deadline to approve the new flood map, the council voted for the map over the objections of two speakers who came forward during the public hearing.

“It is my opinion this ordinance has flaws,” said C.F. Jordan, who has spoken at every meeting on the topic. He asked the council to send a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency asking the agency to review his property’s inclusion in the ordinance.

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The map affects about 1,270 properties. Of those, 554 are newly in the flood zone. More than 700 are being removed from the flood zone.

Owners of properties in the flood zone with federally backed mortgages will be required to purchase costly flood insurance.

The flood maps changed because of better mapping technology and historical data, as well as topography changes because of development, storms and other factors, city officials have said.

Attorney Joshua Pretlow attended Wednesday’s meeting to protest the changes on behalf of the owner of a 94-acre parcel. Based on maps provided by the city, he estimated about seven square feet are included in the flood zone.

“I can assure you there is no way the water gets near this piece of property,” he said.

Nevertheless, City Council members said they were powerless to make changes to the map and were under a deadline to approve it. Failure to do so could have resulted in the suspension of all flood insurance policies in the city provided by the National Flood Insurance Program.

“It was explained to me the city really doesn’t have an option,” Councilman Mike Duman said.

Though some members, including Councilman Leroy Bennett, expressed concern about the hardship the added expense could cause some property owners, the move passed unanimously.

Property owners can appeal to FEMA after having their land surveyed to prove it has very little risk of flooding. Planning Director Scott Mills said his office would assist with that process in any way possible.