Building in a floodplain is like pitching your tent on the highway when there are no cars coming.
Planning and Regulations Can Promote Safe Use of Flood-prone Land
The objective of floodplain management is to control the use of flood-prone locations in a manner that promotes public safety, avoids flood damage, and minimizes economic disruptions due to flooding. Because water flows downhill, a reliable strategy for avoiding flood damage is to keep development out of low-lying areas that are prone to flooding. In the highest risk parts of the floodplain—such as places with frequent flooding, high velocities, lack of flood warning time, or erosion threats—it is desirable to maintain open space. When development does occur in areas with known flood hazards, it should be designed and constructed in a manner that is protected from flood damage.
Floodplain Development Standards
Minimum standards for floodplain development are enforced by each local government for buildings and non-building development within the regulated floodplain (FEMA-mapped 1% annual probability/100-year floodplain). All municipalities in the STC region have enacted local floodplain development regulations that are consistent with federal standards (thereby enabling the availability of flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program). Floodplain standards for buildings are also included in the NYS uniform codes. These regulations are intended to ensure that new development in flood-prone locations is reasonably safe from flood damage and will not result in physical damage to other property.
Floodplain Development Permit
A Floodplain Development Permit is required for all building and non-building development activities in the regulated floodplain. The permit application is designed to assist with the process of reviewing and approving floodplain development proposals. The municipality must maintain records that document compliance with floodplain development standards.
Local Floodplain Management Laws
Each municipality in the region has enacted a Local Law for Flood Damage Prevention based on the model law developed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Municipalities are encouraged to integrate additional standards to provide greater flood damage protection. When updating these regulations, contact STC or NYSDEC for the latest model law language and additional assistance.
Substantial Improvement and Damage
Substantial Improvement / Substantial Damage Rule for existing buildings in the regulated floodplain: If the cost of improvements or the cost to repair damages (from any cause) exceeds 50% of the market value of the building (excluding land value), the entire building must be brought up to current floodplain management standards.
Land Use Planning and Regulations
The land use management authority of local governments presents numerous opportunities for improved floodplain management. Local plans and regulations can be used to promote recreational uses in flood-prone areas, protect or establish vegetated riparian buffers, prevent development in erosion hazard areas, identify and manage flood risks outside of regulated floodplains, protect beneficial floodplain functions, etc.