Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Planning for Flood Resilience - Act 16

On May 6, 2013, Governor Peter Shumlin signed Act 16, an act relating to municipal and regional planning and flood resilience.

A description of Act 16 is posted at the Vermont River Corridor and Floodplain page.

The act requires a flood resilience plan or element for municipal or regional plans effective after July 1, 2014.

§ 4382. THE PLAN FOR A MUNICIPALITY now includes:

(a) A plan for a municipality may be consistent with the goals established in section 4302 of this title and
compatible with approved plans of other municipalities in the region and with the regional plan and shall
include the following:
* * *
(A) A flood resilience plan that:
(i) identifies flood hazard and fluvial erosion hazard areas, based on river corridor maps provided by the
Secretary of Natural Resources pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1428(a) or maps recommended by the Secretary,
and designates those areas to be protected, including floodplains, river corridors, land adjacent to streams,
wetlands, and upland forests, to reduce the risk of flood damage to infrastructure and improved property;
(ii) recommends policies and strategies to protect the areas identified and designated under subdivision
(12)(A)(i) of this subsection and to mitigate risks to public safety, critical infrastructure, historic
structures, and municipal investments.
(B) A flood resilience plan may reference an existing local hazard mitigation plan approved under 44
C.F.R. § 201.6.

§ 4348a. ELEMENTS OF A REGIONAL PLAN is modified in a similar way.

The Goals for the Flood Resilience Element are established in § 4302.

(14) To encourage flood resilient communities.
(A) New development in identified flood hazard, fluvial erosion, and river corridor protection areas
should be avoided. If new development is to be built in such areas, it should not exacerbate flooding and
fluvial erosion.
(B) The protection and restoration of floodplains and upland forested areas that attenuate and moderate
flooding and fluvial erosion should be encouraged.
(C) Flood emergency preparedness and response planning should be encouraged.

Act 16 also addresses Accessory Dwelling Units

In statute Accessory Dwelling Units can now be fully regulated by municipalities consistent with other
development in flood hazard and erosion hazard areas. This enables communities to avoid new
development in hazard areas and to require flood‐proofing and safety standards for proposed
improvements as required for communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. Act
16 amends the language providing for both bylaws and for ordinances.

Next Steps

The flood resilience plan component will be important to keep in mind as current work nears adoption or as funding is sought or contracted for upcoming plan updates.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is developing a Flood Resilient Communities Program and website to help municipalities access best available data and resources for flood resilience.