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Chesterfield Working to Adopt New FEMA Flood Maps

 

Koontz-Bryant has received inquiries by our clients concerning the revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Chesterfield County. The revised maps are not currently posted on the FEMA website but are available for review at the Environmental Engineering Office located at the Chesterfield Courthouse Complex. FEMA adopted the new maps June 18, 2012 and Chesterfield has until December 18, 2012 to amend the County Flood Ordinance. The current maps are based on a 1983 flood study and will be replaced by maps based on more recent studies and newer technology.

If you have a mortgage by a fully regulated lender, your lender must require you to carry flood insurance when a portion of a structure is within the Special Flood Hazard Area depicted on the FEMA map. As stated on the Chesterfield County Government website: “Neighborhoods across Chesterfield County will be affected differently by these map changes. Some properties will not be affected; their risk remains the same. Other properties will be mapped into a higher-risk area and/or show a new base flood elevation. Some properties will be mapped into a lower-risk area than before.”

So what should you do?

The first step is to determine if any structure on your property lies within the revised Flood Zone. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. The first is to visit the Environmental Engineering Office for Chesterfield and to look at the physical maps that have been made available. The second and easier way is to go to the website http://www.chesterfield.gov/FloodplainFAQ/. Under the section “What is a Flood Hazard Map?”, click the link labeled “See the 2012 Preliminary FEMA Floodplains for Chesterfield County, Virginia”. Residents of Chesterfield can enter the website and determine if their property could be affected by the new Flood Zone. If the structures on your property are clearly shown outside of the Flood Hazard Area, your lender should not request that you purchase flood insurance.

What are your options if your dwelling is shown in the Flood Hazard Area?

If any portion of your structure lies within the Flood Zone, your lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. This insurance is not inexpensive. Our clients have indicated that some insurance carriers charge several thousand dollars a year for the additional coverage, depending on the insurer and the flood zone that your dwelling may lie within.

Landowners have alternatives to consider before purchasing the additional coverage. The goal is to determine whether your property actually lies within a Flood Zone. That determination can only be made by an accurate elevation survey on your specific property.

If your dwelling is shown to be within the Flood Hazard Area on FEMA’s map, but by survey is determined to be above the elevation of the Flood Hazard Area, then an application can be made to FEMA requesting a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). The application is submitted by the landowner using the elevation information provided by a professional surveyor. When approved, FEMA will issue the LOMA which will remove your dwelling from the Special Flood Hazard Area. In addition, parcels and portions of parcels that are determined to be above the elevation of the Flood Hazard can be included in the request for a LOMA.

If it is determined that your dwelling is within the elevation of the Flood Hazard, a more detailed Elevation Certificate could be provided by the professional surveyor. The Elevation Certificate is used to show specific details about the dwelling as it relates to the actual living area. The Elevation Certificate can be used to ensure compliance with community floodplain ordinances and to determine the proper insurance premium rate. An Elevation Certificate can also be used when requesting a LOMA.

Please visit the county website at http://www.chesterfield.gov/FloodplainFAQ for additional information.

Koontz Bryant regularly assists our clients in completing LOMA’s and/or providing Elevation Certificates. We perform surveys to determine the elevation of the structure and the property surrounding it. The results of the survey can be used to determine the proper procedure/need for obtaining flood insurance.

Please do not hesitate to call George Bryant at 804-200-1902 or you can email him if you have questions or may be in need of our services.