River is the final judge of floodplain
August 20, 2008
The confluence of two separate floodplain-related issues could mean thousands of dollars in increased costs to Carson Valley homeowners.
Who gets dinged depends on where you live in the Valley.
Those folks who live in the A flood zone are subject to federal rules. If they don’t change anything, their only cost will be flood insurance.
If they remodel their home and it adds more than 50 percent to its value, they are in for big engineering fees plus the cost of construction.
And just because you weren’t in the flood zone when the house was built, doesn’t mean you’re not now. Part of the confusion is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a new set of flood maps that includes homes on the east side of Carson Valley. The county is protesting the maps, but there’s no telling how things will shake out.
At about the same time, the county is patching its floodplain ordinance after FEMA and a federal judge blew a couple of holes through it.
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If the county has a working floodplain ordinance, residents who live in the floodplain get a 20 percent discount on their insurance.
It also sets the rules for those who want to build in the floodplain. If the requirements are too loose, construction in the floodplain could divert high waters to places they hadn’t previously gone. If it’s too strict, builders will balance the cost of complying against the cost of legal action and may choose to challenge the ordinance.
All that paperwork won’t stop one drop of water when the flood comes. On that day, the river could ignore both the maps and the ordinance.
• This editorial appeared in The Record-Courier.