City trying to beat flood insurance deadline


First Posted: 8/5/2009

Mount Airy officials will consider action tonight that will allow the city to beat an Aug. 18 deadline for remaining in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The Board of Commissioners scheduled consideration of a revised flood-damage prevention ordinance for the city is coinciding with a public hearing on that measure. Both items are on the agenda for the commissioners meeting beginning at 7 p.m. today.
Normally, the board does not vote on matters addressed in public hearings on the same day those hearings are held, but delays action to a future meeting so officials can digest any comments made by citizens.
However, an earlier scheduling change has prompted City Manager Don Brookshire to seek board approval of the revised ordinance tonight, after the public hearing. According to a memo from Brookshire, the hearing and vote are having to be combined in one session due to the cancellation of a July 2 commissioners meeting during the Fourth of July holiday week.
The board is scheduled to meet only one other time this month, on Aug. 20 two days after the flood-insurance deadline for the municipality having a new ordinance in place to allow it to continue in the program.
Mount Airy is among nearly 20,000 communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, which requires that they adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future damages. In exchange, federally-backed flood insurance is made available to homeowners, renters and business owners in participating communities.
The citys existing ordinance was adopted in 1981, two years after flooding causing $45 million in damages along the Ararat River and Lovills Creek and set in motion a major flood-control project for both waterways.
Tonights public hearing, and expected vote, comes on the heels of new flood maps being developed for Mount Airy by the N.C. Division of Emergency Management. Drafts of the maps, which are included in the revised ordinance, have been made available to the public.
The critical point, the elevation above the base flood level that a property must be at in order for building to occur, has not changed, according to the city manager. Brookshire said there could be some cases in which base elevation has changed on maps, but those changes are out of the municipalitys control.
City Planning Director Jeff Coutu said that modern technology has resulted in significant improvements to the citys flood maps, compared to the older ones.
Along with incorporating the updated maps, the revised ordinance contains a detailed process for appealing related zoning decisions.
In addition to the flood-related matters tonight, the commissioners are expected to:
Authorize the expenditure of an ongoing $2,500 wellness grant from the N.C. League of Municipalities for use in the citys recreation division.
Approve tax releases.
Hold a special presentation in which the police department and Chief Roger McCreary will be recognized as a patriotic employer by a representative of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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