Leesburg’s floodplain gets a major reshuffling
“This affects far fewer properties,” Environmental Planner Irish Grandfield said, from 207 structures according to FEMA’s 2001 analysis to about 50 today.
The major shift came as a result of a new FEMA floodplain analysis and site-specific engineering studies by the town. For Leesburg to comply with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – a government program that provides affordable public and private flood insurance – Town Council had to adopt the new floodplain and some minor regulation amendments before Feb. 17. After that date, NFIP would not renew any insurance plans in the town.
“No town regulation requires flood insurance,” Grandfield said. However, if property owners take out a federally regulated loan to buy land in a high-risk area, they may be required to buy insurance. In addition, properties on the floodplain must adhere to stricter development standards. They may need to get an engineering study to build additional structures or plant trees.
Town Council members passed all five measures of the floodplain package, including a resolution for the county to assist community groups and nonprofits that want to plant trees in the floodplain.
Council also recommended that affected owners check the new floodplain map to see if their properties are still inside the zone. If not, they can contact their insurer with a copy of the map, and they may be able to reduce coverage.
A few homeowners around Prospect Drive, however, found themselves with wet feet. Realtor Matt Everly was surprised when the town notified him that his home was now within the floodplain. A nearby storm culvert sometimes overflows, but the bike trail behind Everly’s property provides a buffer to most flooding.
“At some point, I’m going to want to sell my house,” he said. “I would not have bought it if it were in the floodplain.”
Councilmember Ken Reid asked if the council could remove Everly’s home from the designation, but staff replied that Everly—and any other affected property owners—will have to petition the Board of Zoning Appeals.
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