Friday, June 28, 2013

UPDATED Development Review Checklist

As we keep our fingers crossed that all of this rain does not result in anything more than some minor flooding, we wanted to make an announcement that we have updated its Development Review Submission Checklist.  The Development Review Submission Checklist is intended to provide a more detailed list of the documentation required when submitting a permit application for review by ANR under 24 VSA §4424.  

When local Flood Hazard Administrators (typically the local Zoning Administrator) are reviewing projects located in a flood hazard area, our office plays a role in the review and permitting of these projects.  As a mandatory provision of municipal bylaws, permits may not be granted until an application for new development and substantial improvement on property located within a flood or other hazard area has been forwarded to ANR and a 30 day review period has lapsed.  

The updated form, available online at, provides a checklist for municipalities to complete and confirm the necessary paperwork has been submitted for a timely review by ANR.  Because of the volume of applications and projects that we are involved in, we will be returning incomplete applications .  Therefore, it is important that all the required documentation be included and submitted to the correct regional floodplain manager (  

We hope that the updated Checklist will be helpful to you if you have to submit an application to our office for review.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Flood Insurance Premiums Rising for Older Homes

A number of changes are underway with the National Flood Insurance Program in response to the Biggert-Waters NFIP Reform of 2012.  These changes include steps to make the program financially solvent - in particular by eliminating or phasing out existing subsidies in the program.

New flood insurance policies are now required to pay actuarial rates.   This situation includes older homes and structures in flood hazard areas that have long benefited from a subsidized flood insurance rate.

Older structures (built before the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps typically in the late 1970s) are called "Pre-FIRM" (Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map) structures.   A new flood insurance policy for a Pre-FIRM structure is now required to pay actuarial rate for the class of "Pre-FIRM" structures.  The specific premium still reflects the value of the structure and the deductible.

New policies or policies renewed after October 1, 2013 will need an Elevation Certificate (EC).  An Elevation Certificate describes the location of the building in relation to the elevation of the flood water (Base Flood Elevation).  An EC has been required for new Post-FIRM structures - but this is the first time that it will be needed for older Pre-FIRM structures.  With an Elevation Certificate, Pre-FIRM structures will get rated based on their specific actual risk situation - notably the elevation of the lowest floor (including the basement).

Please see the Summary on Biggert-Waters.  The summary includes links to additional FEMA information and other resources.

If you have a current flood insurance policy on a residential Pre-FIRM structure - the rates will rise to actuarial cost at 20% / year.

Please contact your homeowners insurance agent to discuss flood insurance costs and how you may be able to reduce your costs by making your structure safer and less risky.  This is particularly important as it will affect the situation at a future time of sale.

Vermont communities may want to consider steps to help property owners get Elevation Certificates - such as encouraging neighbors to hire a surveyor together, and/or to establish more local elevation benchmarks.

Communities may also want to pursue the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) to provide access to discounts on flood insurance rates.