Updated FEMA Flood Maps No Effect on Development, Say Hekemian Lawyers

FEMA's preliminary Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps not being considered by Hekemian in the proposed development of the United Water property.

As a result of the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, FEMA released updated preliminary Advisory Base Flood Elevation maps in December that, once final, may expand the flood zones in 10 New Jersey coastal counties, including Bergen County. Click here to see New Milford.

New Milford residents, long asking for an update to the 1980 DEP flood map that Hekemian is relying on in getting variance approvals for the development of the United Water property, were disappointed to learn at Tuesday's meeting of the Zoning Board that these updated maps will not be taken into consideration by Hekemian in the design of the development, and that the 1980 DEP map stands.

These updated maps are preliminary and will go through a review and appeal period which could take a year or longer. The projected preliminary release date for the New Milford area flood map is anticipated to be June 30, 2013.

The current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) were developed more than 25 years ago. The new advisories will be based on updated coastal flood analyses and data compared to coastal elevations shown on the current FIRMs, according to FEMA.

Since the development of the United Water property hearings began before the Zoning Board in February, residents have contended that more areas in town are subject to flooding than what has been designated by the 1980 DEP flood map. Many have argued that zoning changes must be implemented that would better control and limit development in those affected areas.

During his November 2011 appearance before the Mayor and Council, Richard Henning, a spokesman for United Water, said that development in flood plains is largely to blame for the repetitive flooding New Milford homeowners have experienced since Hurricane Floyd. 

"We need to restore our flood plains," Henning said during that meeting. "They were there for a reason." He added that the only way to completely solve the flooding problem is to restore the natural flood plain.


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Ulises January 11, 2013 at 04:35 PM
The developer's engineer stated this week that the new maps were geared toward tidal waterways and it doesn't apply to the Hackensack River. Yet, this river is a tidal river and Sandy flooded some of us during its tidal surge in October. The engineer argued that flooding was not an issue with this property in all his testimonies last year and now, the new proposal, contains a flood basin? The new basin would not allow for a field to be built behind the ShopRite as some members of the M&C envision or as originally proposed by the developer, at the high school meeting April 2011. Yet, our Mayor stated that she spoke to the developer a few months ago and the original high school presentation was still on the table and that’s one of the reasons why she wants to change the zoning for them to commercial. Mayor Subrizi, if the original proposal presented at the high school was still on the table, as you claim, why hasn’t a field shown up on any of their proposals submitted to the Zoning Board? Let’s be honest here, the rush to rezone is to make that property commercial and to reap in ratable, even though building up this area goes against everything UW’s stated 13 months ago; “…development in flood plains is largely to blame for the repetitive flooding New Milford homeowners have experienced since Hurricane Floyd.” Wake up New Milford, they're selling us down the river. SOD!
Lori Barton January 11, 2013 at 08:47 PM
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers Code of Ethics: "Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony." Apparently, neither Mr. DelVecchio nor Mr. Dipple believe their omission of the pertinent and relevant information provided by the updated FEMA flood maps is unethical. They may not legally be forced to use this new information, but to ignore it totally, in my opinion, is highly suspect and blatantly unethical.
Michelle January 12, 2013 at 04:53 AM
DelVecchio expressed his intent many months ago when he said to the Zoning Board: "The filing of this complaint takes precedence even if they update the maps." What a nice man. I wonder if he eats quiche?


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