Flood map changes to af­fect projects

Palm Beach Daily News - - OPINION - By WIL­LIAM KELLY

Long-an­tic­i­pated changes in flood­plain maps, cou­pled with changes to the Florida Build­ing Code, are go­ing to re­quire build­ings to be built at higher el­e­va­tions, town of­fi­cials say.

Res­i­dences will have to be built at 8.5 feet, a foot higher than now, and non­res­i­den­tial build­ings at 9.5 feet, 2 feet higher than cur­rent guide­lines.

The state build­ing code is ex­pected to change in De­cem­ber after it is adopted by the Florida Leg­is­la­ture, Build­ing Of­fi­cial Bill Buck­lew told the Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion.

Mean­while, new Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency maps and re­lated changes to the town’s flood or­di­nances and zon­ing code must be adopted by early Oc­to­ber if the town is to re­main el­i­gi­ble for fed­eral funds through the Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram. The zon­ing board rec­om­mended on Tues­day that the Town Coun­cil adopt the changes.

In re­sponse to the flood map changes, the town is rais­ing the point where it be­gins mea­sur­ing build­ing height so homes and other struc­tures won’t be “squeezed” by the higher el­e­va­tion, Zon­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor Paul Cas­tro said.

Maura Ziska, a lawyer who rep­re­sents own­ers seek­ing de­vel­op­ment per­mis­sion from the coun­cil, asked if peo­ple seek­ing build­ing per­mits be­fore the end of the year could vol­un­tar­ily build at the new el­e­va­tion re­quire­ment with­out be­ing “pe­nal­ized” by the ex­ist­ing height reg­u­la­tions.

Town At­tor­ney John Ran­dolph said he was not aware of any ex­ist­ing pro­vi­sion that would al­low that. “We ought to go to the Town Coun­cil and see if there’s any­thing we can do,” he said.

Some com­mis­sion­ers shared Ziska’s con­cern.

“If I were build­ing a house right now, I would want to build to the ex­tra foot and not be pe­nal­ized,” Com­mis­sioner Ken­neth Walker said.

Cas­tro said it could be prob­lem­atic for own­ers who have town per­mis­sion to build at the ex­ist­ing el­e­va­tion stan­dard but who have not built the home or com­mer­cial build­ing and who want town ap­proval to build at the new, higher el­e­va­tion.

“These projects all went through the public hear­ing process,” Cas­tro said. “You’ve only heard one side of this is­sue. You haven’t heard from the neigh­bors about the im­pact of retroac­tively rais­ing ap­proved projects by 1 foot.”

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