Town of Halifax, Vermont
November 29, 2011
Public Hearing on Flood Hazard Area Regulations
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:06 PM. Members in attendance were Howard Alboum, Sirean LaFlamme, Cara Cheyette, Brian McNeice, Bradley Rafus, and William Pusey. Norman Fajans was absent. Others in attendance were Dinah Reed from Windham Regional Commission, Ned Swanberg from Department of Environmental Conservation, Selectboard members John LaFlamme, Edee Edwards, and Lewis Sumner, Rick Gay, Craig Stone, Orrin Isles, Margo Avakian, and Secretary Phyllis Evanuk.
Mr. Alboum advised the purpose of this public hearing is for the purpose of considering the adoption of flood hazard area regulations as an amendment to the Halifax Zoning Regulations. He introduced Dinah Reed from the Windham Regional Commission and Ned Swanberg from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
Mr. Swanberg presented a comprehensive overview and slide show of the National Flood Insurance Program. He explained the history of devastating flooding throughout the country was a major contributing factor in the development of the National Flood Insurance Program and through slides of charts and illustrations showed the impacts of flooding on land and structures.
At the close of his presentation he answered questions and made suggestions for possible future studies that could update the flood maps. He noted that currently the official FEMA flood insurance rate maps basically have digitized information taken from older less accurate maps. If the town requested new mapping the information would be of a much more accurate nature. Windham County has some of the newer maps (2007), so it would probably not be revisited for a number of years. The mapping process is costly and takes several years to complete the study, mapping, review, and adoption. At this point, the regulations the town is considering cover only those designated flood hazard areas shown on the current maps.
Mr. Stone inquired about the process and costs for seeking a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) for property shown on the map to be in a flood zone. It would involve having the property surveyed and elevations determined. If the elevations are above the base flood elevations for that area then an application packet with substantiating documentation could be submitted to FEMA for consideration.
Ms. Reed noted that there are hazard mitigation grants available to towns for projects to help mitigate the damages of future flooding events. A requirement for applying for such grants is that the town participates in the NFIP.
The Public Hearing was closed at 8:58 PM.
After Hearing Review
The Commissioners reviewed the things they learned and except for the small changes and/or additions to the draft regulations, had no other things to add. The question of whether or not a property value was reduced if it was in a special flood hazard area was raised. There was no answer forthcoming but Ms. Evanuk advised she would see if she could find information about the issue.
Mr. Alboum advised he would attend the Selectboard public hearing to represent the Planning Commission and encouraged other members to attend if they could.
The amended draft will be sent to the Planning Commissioners along with a copy of the report to the Selectboard and the rest of the packet that will be forwarded to the Selectboard.
In order to help clarify the benefits of voting for this zoning amendment, Ms. Cheyette offered to work up some information and/or charts to explain to the voters. The Commissioners will review them at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 PM.
Phyllis H. Evanuk