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Flood damage prevention ordinance

POWELLSVILLE – They hope it’s never needed, but if it ever is it’s there.

At their regular evening monthly meeting, held at the Town Hall here Feb. 19, the Bertie County Board of Commissioners approved the interlocal agreement between the county and the Town of Colerain for Flood Damage Prevention.

County Planning Director Traci White presented the Board with executed copies from the Town of Colerain for a Flood Damage Prevention Interlocal Agreement with the County.

The interlocal agreement is needed with the county so that the Town of Colerain can be eligible for Federal National Flood Insurance.

“They had to adopt the ordinance in order to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program,” White explained. “They had not participated before because of the town’s limited flood plain.”

A flood plain is defined as a geographic area or areas that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has determined to be a flood risk to nearby communities and property. FEMA rates these zones for their severity of risk, and designates them as low-to-moderate risks, high risks, coastal areas, and undetermined risks. Each zone reflects the severity or type of flooding in the specified area.

In 2002, Colerain adopted an ETJ (extra-territorial jurisdiction) giving it authority to extend its boundaries out in order to qualify for flood insurance for residents within the ETJ area. However, that presented a new set of circumstances for those Colerain residents wishing to purchase flood insurance.

“Some of the property owners that were carrying flood insurance within the ETJ area previously couldn’t get flood insurance anymore because they were now considered part of the Town of Colerain instead of part of the county’s FEMA-administered National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) participation,” White declared.

The Planning Director went on to say that several insurance agents called on those residents’ behalf over the past few years and that has led to the adoption of the damage prevention ordinance. However, the town has no staff with which to enforce the ordinance.

“They’ve requested an interlocal agreement with the county to enforce the ordinance,” White said. “Their ordinance mirrors the county’s regulations.  Some of the statutory references in it are a little different since it’s the town versus the county, but the regulations are the same so we wouldn’t be enforcing anything above and beyond what we enforce for the county or for any of the other towns (in the county) that we have agreements with.”

Chairman Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson mentioned there were other towns with which the county had similar agreements, and White concurred.

“The town has voted on and signed the interlocal agreement and now request that the Commissioners accept that agreement to allow us to issue flood development permits in their jurisdiction and enforce their flood development regulations,” White informed.

She said it’s usually done as part of the county’s building code and that her office does issue the permits.

“It will include activities now that don’t have to have a building permit, but must have a flood development permit, excavation work that’s in the flood plain, farm buildings that are exempt from building permit requirements, and any construction or development that’s done within the flood hazard area,” White said.

Wesson added that it would be a great savings to both the Town of Colerain as well as to Bertie County because the regulations within the agreement mirror the County’s ordinance, and the County will not be enforcing any additional regulations.

“That’s because we would be doing the actual processing and the work for that,” he said.

Commissioner John Trent made a motion that the county adopts the interlocal agreement. It was seconded by Vice-chairman Tammy Lee, and the Board passed the motion unanimously.