Resolution 90-352 requires the County Engineer develop a system of permits to insure that no construction is improperly performed in the flood plain. It is not reasonable for a citizen to make the judgment that their construction will be in the flood plain as they generally do not have the resources or expertise to make the determination. Consequently, we require that everyone contact this office for a floodplain permit. This places the responsibility for the determination upon the Morgan County Engineer, and not the citizen. In many cases, the process can be handled over the phone and you can come by to get the permit at your earliest convenience.
The question may be asked, "why do we have to do this?" In a word, insurance. Morgan County is a "participating community," which allows us to administer the flood plain program and keeps flood insurance premiums at an affordable level. Without this program, flood insurance would be unaffordable, if it were available at all.
After the permit is obtained, special attention must be given to the conditions of the permit. If you are not in the flood plain, the permit will so state and there will be no restrictions placed upon the project. If you are in the flood plain there will be conditions placed upon the project with which you must comply. If you do not comply with the permit, you will be required to demolish what you have built. It does not matter that you may have no plans to obtain flood insurance as your project will have an affect on our compliance rating whether you buy insurance or not.
Variances are possible, but very unlikely. Simply asserting that you have lived a long time in a location without flooding, or flouting the rules, then alledging extreme hardship, are not sufficient grounds for a variance. FEMA* is very picky about variances and some variances will require an engineering study for which the applicant is responsible. In all probability, there will still be conditions placed upon the project with which you will be required to comply.
We have recently been informed that a bill was signed during the Clinton administration that forbids aid to those in the floodplain after November 2004. If you live in a flood plain, it is advisable you to obtain flood insurance.
Finally, the flood plain permit system is not zoning through "the back door." All we care about is complying with the flood plain regulations FEMA imposes as part of the conditions for being a participating community. We don't care what you build as long as you comply with the flood plain regulations.
Finally, if the proper permits are not obtained BEFORE construction is started you will subject to a $200 penalty.
*Federal Emergency Management Agenc 3/8/05