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."