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1980 DEP Flood Map Trumps 2005 FEMA Map

In determining floodways, plains and zones, a FEMA map can only be used if a town does not have an existing DEP map.

Borough engineer, Margita Batistic, confirmed to Mayor Ann Subrizi that in the matter of flood maps, a 32-year old DEP map trumps a seven-year old FEMA map. 

During Tuesday's Planning Board meeting, Subrizi said that she had consulted with Batistic who informed her that if a town has an existing DEP map, which New Milford does, then the FEMA map cannot be used, or relied upon, in determining flood elevations. The FEMA map is primarily intended for use by the National Flood Insurance Program only.

Central to the recent Zoning Board hearings, is the developer's reliance on DEP flood maps that date to 1980. Members of New Milford's grassroots group , have been questioning experts regarding their position on the validity of the 1980 map as a tool for determining flooding on the  

Hekemian's engineer, , testified that he relied on the 1980 NJDEP state map because it is the state regulatory map and the one that Dipple said he is required to use in determining his calculations.

"If a state map is available we are required to use it," Dipple said.

Due to the flooding events that have occurred since the 1980 DEP map was created, residents want any updates to the map to reflect the reality of the area now under consideration for development by Hekemian.

During the regarding Hekemian's proposed development, members of the board, as well as many members of the audience, who have lived through Floyd, the Palm Sunday storm and Irene expressed concern that if the land is covered by impervious materials, the water will pool.

During that meeting, board attorney, Scott Sproviero, told Dipple that despite the flood maps that were on exhibit detailing the flood hazard area, the people of New Milford have lived through real storm events, citing the Palm Sunday storm and Hurricane Irene.

Sproviero said, "They know that the area floods." 

During a June meeting of the Planning Board, Subrizi reported that the NJDEP is working with FEMA to update their current flood map and showed a preliminary map outlining today's 100 and 500 year floodplain. (A copy of this draft map is available for view in the Building Department at Borough Hall.)

The 'flood plain' is the area adjacent to a body of water that is covered by floodwater when it rains. This area can shrink or expand depending on how much it rains. According to New Jersey land use law, the regulated flood plain is the area that would be covered by water during the “100 year storm” — a storm which has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any one year period. 

The flood plain is made up of two parts — the floodway and the flood fringe. The floodway is the inner area where floodwaters are deep and move fast. The floodway always includes the area where the water normally flows, and usually extends to the top of the bank and sometimes beyond. The flood fringe is the outer area where flood waters move more slowly, appearing more still, like a lake or pond.

According to New Jersey Land Use Law, a building in a floodway will block the water’s flow, backing up water and causing flooding upstream to worsen. A building in a flood fringe will prevent flood waters from spreading out, thus forcing floodwaters downstream faster and increasing downstream flooding. 

According to Subrizi, Batistic told her that upon reviewing all of the maps--the 1980 DEP map, 2005 FEMA map and the draft update to the 1980 DEP map-- none show the United Water property to be in the floodway. 

Subrizi told the board that the final version of the updated DEP map should be completed in approximately one year. 

 

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John DeSantis September 01, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Pat, By no means should those who oppose this development consider conceding defeat. They take a position on an issue based on what they feel is right, not on whether the odds are in thier favor or not. Clearly, it is very difficult to win against a huge developer who has a well oiled machine already in place and prepared to squash any opposition, but it is not impossible. If they don't try they have no chance at all.
Pat September 01, 2012 at 03:46 PM
John I agree with you. The worst thing that happens is you lose and at least help change things. I think the more important fight will be to change land use laws and regulations. Things will only get worse as cash strapped towns make deals with the devil. Although I may not completely agree with SOD, I must admit there is a part of me that is proud to see them stand up and fight for what they truly believe in. That is a truly unique American ability.
Robert September 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
That is kind and gracious and courageous of you to say Pat SOD!
Michelle September 04, 2012 at 07:02 AM
They are respected members of our community, that's why we elected them. Let's keep it in perspective. If we are to fight this thing, we will have to stick together as a community. United we stand...on all fronts.
Denise September 08, 2012 at 04:14 PM
As I have said many times before I may be naive, however, if there is a law saying that an apartment building cannot be more 2 stories in NM and this developer wants to build 4 stories is that not breaking the law?

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