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Dare commissioners adopt flood and zoning ordinance changes, code update

Meeting on May 5, Dare County’s Board of Commissioners adopted revised flood maps for Dare County and amendments to the county’s Flood and Zoning Ordinances.

In a public hearing a letter from the Outer Banks Home Builders was read supporting the new flood and zoning ordinances.

The changes apply to unincorporated portions of Dare County.

The information below comes from the agenda book for the May 5, 2020 meeting. The summary and the proposed documents can be found on the Dare County website, darenc.com, under Board of Commissioners agenda for the May 5 meeting.

The Dare County Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance needs to be updated due to the revised maps. Some 15 zoning districts need to be amended because they use the term “base flood elevation” as reference for building heights.

The ordinance changes come from a model ordinance provided by North Carolina and locally developed language from County and municipal planning staffs and Outer Banks Home Builders and with approval by the Dare County Planning Board.

The basis for the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance is the federal code which establishes federal floodplain management regulations. Dare’s ordinance must be consistent with the federal code as part of the county’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Because of the substantial changes in the maps, a local elevation standard was drafted and included as part of the revised ordinance.

The local elevation standard establishes a regulatory flood elevation that applies to Shaded X and X zones. Freeboard requirements remain in the AE, AO and VE flood zones.

The local elevation standard is applied to any property identified on the revised flood maps as Shaded X or X zone. Properties in those zones will have regulations applied as if the property was classified as an AE zone.

The local elevation standard establishes eight feet as the regulatory flood protection elevation in the Shaded X and X zones. The reference level for the eight feet is the bottom of the lowest floor or attendant utilities for the structure meaning the bottom of the lowest floor must be elevated to eight feet or the utilities, if located below the floor, must be elevated to eight feet or higher.

Some 15 zoning districts use base flood as the reference point for building height. With so many properties being reclassified to Shaded X and X zone, these districts need to be amended to remove the reference to base flood. Four of these districts apply to Hatteras village and eleven zoning districts in Wanchese use base flood election as the building height reference point.

The actual building height limit in these districts is not being changed.

The map adoption process required local elected officials to adopt the revised flood maps even though the maps have been finalized by FEMA and no changes can be made to the maps by Dare County.

The maps become effective June 19, 2020 and can be used for flood insurance rating purposes after this date.

The other first public hearing was held on the 2020 S-12 Supplement to the County of Dare Code of Ordinances for Publication. No public comments were submitted.

The commissioners adopted a resolution approving an update to the Dare County Code of Ordinances. American Legal Publishing Company, which maintains the code, had completed the update with all of the amendments that have been adopted since January 2019. The amendments were previously adopted.

FLOOD ZONES APPLIED IN DARE COUNTY

Source: Dare County Flood Maps information at darenc.com

AE—zone that corresponds to the 1% annual chance floodplains, base flood elevations established, flood insurance required if associated with federally-insured mortgage. AE zones are the base floodplain with a base flood elevation expressed as a number such as AE-4. These are the most common flood zone in Dare County.

AO-zone that corresponds to the areas of 1% annual chance shallow flooding (usually sheet flow on sloping terrain) with average depths of 1 and 3 feet, elevation required based on flood depth, flood insurance required if associated with federally-insured mortgage.

AH – zone that corresponds to the areas of 1% annual chance shallow flooding (usually ponding) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet, base flood elevations established, flood insurance required if associated with federally-insured mortgage.

VE– zone that corresponds to the 12% annual chance coastal floodplains that have additional hazards associated with storm waves, base flood elevations established, flood insurance required if associated with federally-insured mortgage.

Shaded X – zone that corresponds to the 0.2% annual chance for flood and represents the areas of moderate flood hazard shown on the FIRM and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2% annual chance for flood. Commonly referred to as the 500-year flood. No flood insurance required.

X or unshaded X –zone that corresponds to elevations that are higher than the 0.2% annual flood chance and represents the areas of minimal flood hazard and are areas outside of the Special Flood Hazard Areas or outside of the flood zone. No flood insurance is required.

Dare County disputed the application of these Shaded X and X zones in some areas of unincorporated Dare County. The areas disputed by Dare County have experienced flooding from ocean or sound inundation. Dare County’s comments were ignored.

Dare County urges property owners in shaded X or X zones to procure or retain flood insurance.

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