City adjusts flood plain laws to match state

Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

The Morristown City Council this week unanimously approved relatively minor changes to the city’s flood-related ordinances, a housekeeping measure that city officials say was not universally understood.

About three years ago, councilmembers adopted standard, state-recommended flood regulations, but failed to remove 40-year-old flood guidelines from the books, according to Alan Hartman, Morristown planning director.

The old regulations include terminology that’s no longer in use.

Stanley Harrison, who heads up the state National Flood Insurance Program, notified city officials that failure to closely follow state model flood regulations could jeopardize Morristown resident’s ability to get flood insurance.

There was some apparent confusion during the public comment portion of the meeting in which fears that voting to eliminate the old regulations would put the city’s Flood Insurance Program compliance in jeopardy.

Hartman says nothing he knows about the flood ordinance and nothing he has heard from credible sources support those conclusions.

“It was the right thing to do,” Hartman said of eliminating the old regulations.

At the suggestion of councilmember Gary Chesney, councilmembers agreed to revisit the issue if turns out the action causes potential harm to homeowners.

Hartman also noted the ordinance amendment has nothing to do with the Masengill Springs development.

State and federal officials have approved a site-specific water-control plan for that site.

Keeping the old regulations on the books could have postponed Popkin Town Center development on East Morris Boulevard by two weeks to a month, according to Hartman.

The old regulations would have required a public hearing and that the Morristown Board of Zoning Appeals to approve what the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already approved, according to Hartman.

-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer

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