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Thread: Floodplain management and penalties

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Dragon's avatar
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    Floodplain management and penalties

    I have a landowner in the county that owns a lot of land in the Floodplain. Well, originally is was undefined A zone, but a few years ago the Corps paid for a hydro study, giving me BFE for that area, which I will call Creek B.

    According to our ordinance, a person is supposed to apply for a flood permit, or certification before building. This guy comes into my office a few weeks ago with a finished construction Elevation Certification. Normally, I let this thing go if all is up to par, I just mention that they should have done this before building. When I checked his EC from the engineer and checking my map, something didnít add up. The EC said he was 1 ft above BFE as called for by the ordinance, but that was 5 ft below according to my map, and in the Floodway.

    Our attorney mentioned that it could be a mistake due to his engineer not knowing about the Hydro study (to be honest, it was ďmisplaced for a significant timeĒ, though the community had been building up to that height well before the hydro study was done), and that a variance and a no-rise certification may be in order.

    I came across an old EC from the same engineer on the adjoining property 100ft away that shows the other home was built up to BFE. This suggests some dishonest dealing going on with this new house.

    Now, I think they are still applying for a variance, but the evidence I have suggest they donít deserve one. As far as Iím concerned they are in violation, and knew ahead of time they were doing things wrong. Iím ready to start pushing the penalty issue.

    Iím putting all this dirty laundry here to ask other cyburbians: In your opinion, am I justified in pushing for fines? Has anyone ever fined someone for violations of your local Floodplain Ordinance?

    This is a first for me, I just want opinions to see if Iím being over zealous in my pursuit of penalizing someone for trying to pull a fast one on the county, and trying to sell these problematic homes to people.

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Wow.

    It sure sounds shady given that this engineer had designed something properly on the neighboring property with the new BFE in mind. I personally can't fathom someone building in the "floodway". In fact, that alone is reason to deny the variance in my mind as building in the floodway represents a strong health/safety concern.

    I think you are within bounds to push for fines. I would expect some fireworks though when you send the citation. You need to emphasize the danger of building in floodways anytime someone asks or challenges you on this. You can also talk about the costs of cleanup for the city when it floods, etc.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman GŲring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    I would not seek fines.

    Remember that the purpose of the flood plain ordinance is to permit development while protecting the floodplain. The property owner is going to be spending a lot of money to get to 2' above BFE (and in this you should not waiver).

    His attorney and the engineer's attorney will, of course, get rich in the end.
    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
    Abraham Lincoln

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    I would not seek fines.

    Remember that the purpose of the flood plain ordinance is to permit development while protecting the floodplain. The property owner is going to be spending a lot of money to get to 2' above BFE (and in this you should not waiver).

    His attorney and the engineer's attorney will, of course, get rich in the end.
    That being said, you will need to show to your state and the feds that you took action as well. It's a bit of cya if the state or the feds call you on it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Did he actually find someone to mortgage this house? Or is he planning to build it with his own funds? Who will he find to insure it? Do you allow building with floodable basements there? If he intends to live there, he will pay plenty when the flood comes.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    In the end, the homebuyer will be paying for the remediation, not the engineer or builder. Whatever it costs to comply will be added to the final cost of the homebuyer, plus the usual contingency and profit mark-ups.

    A life-time ago, when I worked in NH on Impact Fee Legislation the NH Homebuilders Association ran a pro-forma for a home to illustrate the financial consequences of impact fees. They added in the impact fees, they then increased their contingency costs with a step up over the no impact fee scenario, and then added in the profit, again taking extra profit on the fees.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Dragon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    If he intends to live there, he will pay plenty when the flood comes.
    Especially if his home floats away. Though, he intends to sell them to some unsuspecting buyer.
    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater
    Did he actually find someone to mortgage this house? Or is he planning to build it with his own funds? Who will he find to insure it? Do you allow building with floodable basements there?
    He cheaply throws them up with his own money. According to a seperate homeowner, they have trouble getting a bank to finance anything in the area do to poor construction, bad titles, and the flood hazard area.

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