Kitty Hawk addresses flood prevention ordinance, schedules public hearing

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Kitty Hawk Town Council met Feb. 3 at to review the new model flood damage prevention ordinance and schedule a public hearing on the matter.

Mayor Gary Perry informed those in attendance and those that would watch the meeting later that the council wanted to be “ahead of the game” and make the public aware of what this new ordinance will entail. He said the ordinance is “so complex” and “more than just raising the height” of buildings. Perry said he wanted to give residents time to digest the new plans prior to the public hearing.

With that, planning director Rob Testerman highlighted the major areas of change in the new ordinance. Testerman said that all the town planning directors along with Dare County planning director Donna Creef have been working together on this new ordinance.

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To start, Testerman made note that town highly discourages residents from dropping their flood insurance. “Low risk does not mean no risk,” he said.

Testerman then went through how many properties lie within each flood zone: AE, VE, AH and AO. 278 structures lie in AE zones (areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event) and the base flood elevation for these structures has been reduced from 8.3-ft. to 4-ft.

For VE zones, or areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event with additional hazards due to storm-induced velocity wave action, the base flood range is from 11-ft. to 13-ft. This zone contains 979 properties.

389 properties are within AH zones (usually areas of ponding where average depths are between 1-ft. to 3-ft.). The flood elevation of these properties is 9-ft. to 10-ft. The AO zone, usually sheet flow on sloping terrain, contains 94 properties.

Testerman said the new flood maps will benefit homeowners in terms of insurance premiums. “For every foot above base flood [you build], your insurance premium costs are getting cut pretty significantly,” he mentioned.

He went through some added definitions to the ordinance, such as local elevation standard, non-conversation agreement and “tiny homes.” Testerman added that if a small home does not fit the definition of an RV, it will have to comply with residential standards. Also, the defined reference level has changed: now, the bottom floor of a structure is deemed the floor for reference level.

Under the general standards portion of the ordinance, Testerman made note that a pre- and post-construction certificate will be required. “We currently don’t require a certificate post-construction,” Testerman Perry added, “If we adopt that [the new ordinance], it requires two inspections.”

Perry wanted to make the public aware of these two inspections and make it known that there will be extra fees associated with this new requirement.

A few other things noted were that if a property lies withing an X zone – otherwise known as a moderate flood hazard area – and it was an X zone initially, that property owner would be able to add an addition at the elevation that was permitted at the time of the construction of the house. “We won’t make the addition be higher than the house,” Testerman said.

Also, if a property owner proposes an addition or a remodel that exceeds 50% of the value of the house, they will have to bring whole house into compliance with the elevation standard of that zone.

Testerman said information regarding the new ordinance will made available on the town website, www.kittyhawknc.gov, for anyone wishing to learn more.

The ordinance must be approved by June 19 of this year. Mayor Pro Tem Craig Garriss made a motion to set a public hearing regarding this new model flood damage prevention ordinance for March 2 at 5 p.m. All council members were in favor and the motion passed unanimously.

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