Hekemian's engineering expert, Michael Dipple, told the Zoning Board Thursday that according to the hastily released updated FEMA maps, New Milford is not included within the outlined boundaries of FEMA's flood zone. He also added that New Milford is affected by fluvial flooding and not tidal flooding.
The question of the new FEMA maps was raised at Thursday's special meeting of the Zoning Board in light of Gov. Chris Christie's emergency order instructing municipalities to adopt FEMA’s updated advisory flood maps. Although the maps are not expected to be finalized for approximately another two years, Christie did not want to leave property owners devastated by Superstorm Sandy wondering what rebuilding standards to follow.
Christie mandated that all homes in the flood zone be elevated or owners will face paying flood insurance premiums of approximately $31,000 per year as opposed to $7,000 per year if they rebuild to the newly recommended elevations, and $3,5000 per year if the house is raised two feet above the recommended elevation level.
In displaying screen shots of the updated maps on his easel, Dipple pointed out that FEMA outlines the tidal flooding area as the middle of Riverside Square Mall and Route 4.
According to Dipple, New Milford is part of the fluvial flood plain--flooding caused by upstream events, and not tidal flooding.
Dipple explained that elevations 8 and 11 are the baselines FEMA uses to determine flooding areas. "The area we want to develop in New Milford is elevation 14," Dipple said.
"Fluvial or not, it still floods," Board member Eileen DeBari responded.
However, Dipple later conceded that the area surrounding Riverside Square Mall was as far as FEMA had studied up to this point. FEMA is expected to complete its survey of the area and release final copies of their revised maps within two years.