Improved flood-plain guidelines are sought


To improve the management of flood plains in Carroll, planners want the county to adopt a law outlining standards, hire a specialist to oversee federal and state requirements, and take over administrative and enforcement duties from the county's eight municipalities.

Under a proposal presented yesterday to the county commissioners, the county would create a comprehensive flood-plain management program to more efficiently meet requirements under the federal National Flood Insurance Program - the only source of flood insurance for the vast majority of the nation's homeowners.

Homeowners can buy flood insurance if their community participates in the federal government's flood-plain management program. The federal government requires that homeowners buy flood insurance if they obtain a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender and if the house is in a flood hazard area.

After Tropical Storm Isabel last year, many homeowners in Baltimore County were confused about their coverage.

Carroll became a participant in the federal program in the early 1980s, but management of federal flood-plain standards was not clearly defined, said Tom Devilbiss, the county's chief of the Bureau of Resource Management. A flood-plain management program would ensure that the county meets its responsibilities, he said.

"The administration of the [federal] program falls on us," Devilbiss said.

Such a program would also ensure that the county would receive federal relief assistance in case of a natural disaster, said Jim Slater, deputy director of the county's environmental resource protection programs.

Under Carroll's proposed flood-plain management program, a new ordinance would replace flood-plain regulations listed under the county's building codes. The county's Bureau of Resource Management would be charged with implementing such standards.

The proposal also calls for hiring a flood-plain management specialist, creating a fee structure for review of plans and mapping, and updating the flood-plain insurance rate maps for the county. The county also wants to take over from the municipalities the management of flood plains.

The county commissioners expressed support yesterday for the proposed flood-plain management program. County Chief of Staff Steven D. Powell said the county planners would take a final draft to the commissioners. A public hearing on the flood-plain ordinance is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 9 in the Scott Center at Carroll Community College.

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