During its monthly meeting Aug. 5, the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board considered the repercussions of approving a staff recommended text amendment to the town’s floodplain ordinance. These recommendations, if then adopted by the aldermen, would change the effective dates of pre-FIRM and post-FIRM definitions.
FEMA defines post-FIRM as being any building or development for which the start of construction occurred on or after Dec. 31, 1974.
The state of North Carolina, however, has defined post-FIRM as being any building built after Dec. 31, 1970. The Town of Wrightsville Beach used the 1970 definition. FIRM refers to the flood insurance rate map.
Changing the date to agree with FEMA’s would affect flood insurance rates for those properties built from 1970 to 1974. Chairman Thomas “Ace” Cofer said the biggest group this action will affect would be Channel Walk, built 1972-74.
“What I was trying to do was be consistent with FEMA’s regulations, I didn’t want a date in there that was incorrect,” said Tony Wilson, planning and parks director.
Not being in compliance with FEMA regulations could lower the town’s low insurance rating.
“It’s a big deal,” Cofer said.
His main concern for the town was insurance premiums on pre-FIRM properties were generally more costly than post-FIRM properties because owners had to pay an escalated premium. The proposed change to the FIRM date would create more pre-FIRM structures in Wrightsville Beach.
Cofer pointed out FEMA still had a map on its website indicating the post-FIRM/pre-FIRM line for Wrightsville Beach was drawn at 1970, so he questioned if FEMA would still honor that.
“I wouldn’t be comfortable giving a favorable recommendation right now without some research into questioning why FEMA wouldn’t accept that 1970 map,” Cofer said.
The board voted unanimously to table the discussion until the next meeting.
At that time, the committee will also vote on part two of the same amendment, which would do away with the requirement for properties located on higher ground to have breakaway walls. This AE zone includes most homes along Waynick Boulevard and Lumina Avenue.
The planning board plans to revisit both issues at its next meeting Tuesday, Sept. 7.