Supervisors approve scaled back floodplain ordinance
It was a packed courthouse Tuesday night for the second public hearing regarding Mathews County’s floodplain management ordinance. However, only a handful of citizens spoke, and the board unanimously adopted the ordinance, which was scaled back to meet the minimum requirements imposed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The first public hearing on the matter, held on Sept. 23, also drew a large number of residents, many of whom strongly opposed the ordinance as it was then proposed, which not only met all the federal requirements to ensure that residents would be eligible for federally-subsidized floodplain insurance, but also exceeded those requirements in several areas.
Those requirements, which many residents said they felt were onerous, placed the same requirements for building in the V and VE zones as in the Coastal A, or high hazard zone; would require one foot of “freeboard” (an extra foot of elevation above the base flood elevation) for all new construction in those zones; and would require full compliance with all provisions of the ordinance for an existing structure that is modified by 50 percent or more of its market value.
The ordinance had to be passed by the county’s board of supervisors by the time the new flood insurance rate maps become effective Dec. 9 in order to comply with FEMA requirements, or county residents could have been in jeopardy of losing their flood insurance and homeowners in flood-prone areas with mortgages would likely have their mortgages recalled.
At the beginning of Tuesday’s public hearing, Mathews building official Jamie Wilks made it clear the ordinance had been amended since the September public hearing to meet “the minimum requirements and nothing more.” He also said the state had reviewed the revised ordinance, assured the county it had met the minimum requirements, and indicated that it would be accepted by FEMA.
During the time for citizen comment, Mathews Planning Commission member Michael Lowe, an Onemo resident, was the first to speak, and implored the board of supervisors “not to do any more damage to us than FEMA already is.