Limit on flood plain construction

By Barry Merrill

Tribune Publisher

Over 22,000 acres of Wayne County lie within the newly re-defined flood plain. New state and federal regulations are encouraging the county to limit how people can build on land in that area.

Planning Director Chip Crumpler presented two possible restrictions for county commissioners to consider at their regular meeting last Tuesday morning.

The main discussion rested on a call to eliminate the practice of bringing in fill dirt to raise building sites above the flood plain. Mr. Crumpler emphasized that property owners could still build, but they would use foundation structures, such as a pier, to raise the level of construction.

Using fill is a very common practice in eastern North Carolina. Many property owners do not like being told they can’t use their land as they want to.

While the state is not mandating the change, Mr. Crumpler said all county property owners who apply or renew flood insurance policies would see a significant increase in their rates if the change is not approved.

Mr. Crumpler estimated 1500 property owners in the county have flood insurance, but that does not include property in  Mount Olive and Seven Springs, that have flood plain properties.

Commissioners grumbled that given the insurance premium penalty they seemingly had little choice.

The second proposal would prohibit the base level, below the flood plain level, to be later converted to living space. Mr. Daughtery voiced the sentiment, which seemed to be common, that second provision was not as controversial.

Another encouraged restriction would push new construction to three feet above the flood plain, as opposed to two feet presently, the planning board are not proposing that change at this time.

Some of this information is just coming to the county, but adoption of a final document by June 20 was mandated, or all flood insurance policies in the county would be canceled.

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