2010-03-20 / News

Meeting set to review flood map changes

By Charles Prince

LANCASTER – Fairfield County residents have an opportunity on Wednesday, March 24 to review a preliminary updated flood insurance rate map.

The Flood Risk Information Open House runs from 6:30 to 8: 00 p.m. at Fairfield County’s LIberty Center, 951 Liberty Drive, Lancaster.

The current flood map for the lake area in Fairfield County dates back to 1989. This update is part of a nation-wide effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update flood maps.

Map updates are significant since they determine whether structure owners will be required to buy federal flood insurance. Cost can range from a couple hundred dollars per year to several thousand. Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods and mortgage holders require flood insurance for structures in 100 year or less floodplains.

The preliminary update makes significant changes for structures on or near the Buckeye Lake waterfront and for those near the South Fork of the Licking River. The construction of the Seller’s Point spillway set a base elevation for Buckeye Lake, according to Senior Planner James Mako of the Fairfield County Regional Planning Commission. That elevation, which is incorporated in the update, removed structures along South Bank and on Liebs Island that had been in a floodplain.

However, the update has expanded the floodplain west and particularly north of Lakeside Road. Homes on the west side of Lakeside Drive that previously weren’t in the floodplain have now been included. Some West Bank homes are also included in the flood plain.

Mako doesn’t know whether ODNR’s long delayed channelization project intended to reverse the additional flooding on the west side of the lake caused by Seller’s Point is incorporated or not. “These maps are FEMA’s handiwork,” he said. FEMA contracted with Stantec Consulting Services Inc., an international firm with an office in Columbus, to do the maps. Stantec acquired the Fuller Mossbarger Scott & May engineering firm in 2008 that conducted ODNR’s study of the South Fork.

Mako isn’t sure whether Stantec representatives will be at the March 24 meeting to answer questions about what was considered and what wasn’t. However, FEMA representatives will be there and those questions can be directed to them. “They can remodel a waterway,” he added.

“Now’s the time to ask questions,” Bob Weldon of Millersport’s Tom Jones Insurance recommended. “If there is a debate it needs to be now.”

FEMA’s map modernization project is a seven-step process. Next week’s Open House is the third step. The next step is to publish the new base flood elevation, followed by a 90-day appeal period to formally dispute any changes. That’s followed by a Letter of Final Determination which makes the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map effective six months from the date of the letter. Local flood plain ordinances must be revised within that six month period to maintain compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program.

Mako urged affected property owners to attend the Open House. Those that can’t make it to the meeting can contact Mako with questions at 740-687-7110 or jmako@co.fairfield.oh.us

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