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SENT OUT VIA SWIFT911 CALL OUT SYSTEM ON OCTOBER 19, 2017
THIS IS AN EXACT COPY OF WHAT WAS SENT OUT PREVIOUSLY..
The Evolution of Elevation Requirements in Bevil Oaks
For the past month and a half, hundreds of citizens asked staff at the City, the Mayor and various council members questions about how the City ever began regulating the elevation of homes in Bevil Oaks. This post will hopefully explain the history of flood management since any citizens have not been able to attend each of the post-Harvey Council meetings. Further, not every citizen may be able to piece together the history of flood control through the various ordinances, policies and other information that the City hosts on its website.
Floodplain management through formal City action originally began on February 21, 1978. The City Council at the time enacted the first flood damage prevention ordinance, #25, signed by then Mayor O. C. Hall. The original ordinance was very basic in nature, and was revised October 19, 1982. The new ordinance, #48, added much more depth to the ordinance, but retained the requirements to be built at or above base flood elevations, as proven with an elevation certificate. Ordinance #48 required floodplain permits. This 1982 ordinance was signed by Mayor Whitmeyer and Council Secretary Tommy LaRousse.
Ordinance #72 replaced ordinance #48, on February 17, 1987. The new ordinance was signed by then Mayor H. C. Davidson and Council Secretary Tommy LaRousse. EACH AND EVERY ordinance (#25, #48, #72) has utilized the FEMA regulation of 50% “substantial improvement” benchmark, which includes repairing a home after any destruction. This 50% rule, also referred to by the ordinances as “substantial improvement”) is, and always has been, a FEMA requirement, and existed as a requirement in Bevil Oaks as far back as 1978.
The next revision to the ordinance was signed on March 15, 1988 by then Mayor James Shults and city secretary Sherry Adams. It became ordinance #81. Ordinance 81 was the last floodplain ordinance that permitted residential construction to “at or above base flood elevation”.
On November 18, 1997, the city council began to require all new home construction to be elevated to a flat 31 foot elevation. This blanket requirement had a broad impact on any new or substantially improved impact throughout the City. For example, there are many homes that the base flood levels are anywhere from 25-28 foot, which then would require them to elevate any new home or affected by the 50% rule anywhere from three to six feet. The Council present to vote when this was passed was the following: Tommy LaRousse, Terry Pickering, and Kay Neichoy and Mayor Hignett. Although Mayor Hignett did not vote on the matter and no mayor has since voted on an ordinance based on available information since a tie between a quorum of Councilpersons is required.
A year later, on October 20, 1998, the city council voted to send a letter to FEMA advising them of a garage being denied a permit to build in the floodplain. The actual reason it was denied was not given on the meeting minutes, but was voted on and approved with the motion made by Tommy LaRousse and seconded by Ken Bravenec. Also present on council that night were Terry Pickering, Thomas Cooley, Karrel Waller, and Mayor Hignett.
On October 16, 2007, city council discussed the FEMA requirements for building permits and the floodplain permit process. Those present were: Mayor Rebecca Ford, Councilpersons Sherry Adams, Jimmie Grimes, Rusty Moseley, and Norman Lowrey. The Council voted and approved that night (motion made by Grimes, seconded by Moseley) to add the FEMA requirements to the building permits with spacing requirements. They also voted and approved the same night Ordinance #207, removing the 31 foot rule for everyone making it a flat 2 foot above base flood elevation rule, thereby preventing the need to elevate some homes up to six feet when they were substantially improved or newly constructed. The motion made by Lowrey, seconded by Adams and approved by the Council without Mayor Ford needing to vote. This is the same ordinance still in effect today. It was reviewed and approved by FEMA, and on file with the State of Texas Water Development Board, as required. It is reviewed every few years, including last year, and will be again at any audit given by FEMA or any time the State of Texas or FEMA requests it.
2017- During the September special meeting held this year, the current city council voted unanimously to suspend the 2 foot requirement, as approved to do so by FEMA, to allow those at or above base flood elevations to rebuild due to Hurricane Harvey. Affected homeowners simply have to provide proof they are rebuilding at or above base flood elevations to help elevate any extra hardships for those citizens to have to raise or demolish their homes. Those on council during this time are: Mayor Ford, Councilpersons Danny Fruge, Michelle Nelson, Martha Vautrot, Mark Theobald, Doug Emmons, and Jim Andrews). HOWEVER, FEMA’s 50% rule still applies to any home in flood zone AE that is under base flood elevation for the first floor of their home. Such homes will still have to be elevated to at or above Base Flood Elevation.
The city participates in the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) and the CRS (Community Rating System). As such, the city is required to keep and accurately maintain a floodplain ordinance. In doing so, FEMA provides any citizen (or prospective home buyer) living in Bevil Oaks the opportunity to obtain flood insurance. Should the City ignore its own requirements, FEMA can pull the entire city from the program. This would mean no one in Bevil Oaks could get any flood insurance through the NFIP. Currently, the City of Bevil Oaks is rated a “7” with the CRS program, which affords those homes in zone AE to get a 15% discount through the NFIP, and homes in zone X to get a 10% discount. By waiving the current 2-foot rule recently, this could drop the city from a rated 7 to something lower and decrease the discount people are currently receiving. However, in the end, it has saved over 200 plus homes from having to be elevated or torn down based on the 50% rule and not being in compliance with all city, state and federal laws. Now previously limited homeowners are able fix their homes without worry of the added expense of elevation, once they submit the proper elevation certificates.
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After Hours Water/Sewer Emergency 409-755-7377