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Flood maps approved by Southern Shores Planning Board

The Southern Shores Planning Board met on May 18 via Zoom to discuss modifications to the flood damage prevention ordinance.

The new flood maps must be adopted by each municipality by mid-June. Each town in Dare County has been discussing the flood maps since early in 2020, some having already adopted them and others moving them along to a public hearing in early June.

Chairman of the Southern Shores planning board Andy Ward led the continued discussion about the maps, highlighting areas in which the board had previously made changes.

In an earlier meeting, the board had suggested striking language such as “free board.” Dabni Shelton, permit officer, noted that having this kind of specific language in the ordinance “helps us with CRS.”

CRS stands for Community Rating System. CRS “credits” can be earned from FEMA if a community contributes to, improves upon or adds to the floodplain map. Therefore, the language was kept as is.

The board also reviewed the formality of conducting a hearing as opposed to a review if a property owner is in violation of the ordinance.

If town staff were to find a flood ordinance violation, the property owner would be sent a notification and has the right to request a hearing. The hearing would be before Town Council. “This is separate from an appeal,” Shelton confirmed.

Ward inquired about the process of challenging a wrongly mapped property. Shelton stated that an owner would have to acquire all documentation necessary to send over to FEMA if they were to challenge a mapped area. FEMA would then pass along the documentation to town staff for review.

“We can make comments and agree or disagree,” Shelton said. Ultimately, FEMA makes the final determination, but the town would maintain all documentation.

Wes Haskett, interim town manager, noted that this process would most likely take months to complete from beginning to end.

With no further questions or comments from the board after the brief discussion, board member David Neal made a motion to approve the ordinance with the board’s amendments. In a vote 5-0, the motion carried and the ordinance will now make its way to a public hearing.

“I want to thank everybody involved for making it happen,” Ward said. The public hearing, with the purpose of receiving input from residents of Southern Shores on the new flood maps, will be held on June 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

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