Lewes subcommittee recommends changes to protect homes from future floods

Increasing freeboard would also increase building height
July 30, 2023

The Lewes Planning Commission’s Environmental Subcommittee unanimously voted to recommend changes it says will safeguard homes from future flooding.

The proposal would have the biggest impact in floodplain areas, but would apply to every new or renovated structure in the city.

“Floodplains are moving, they’re increasing, they’re encroaching, and floods are coming,” said subcommittee Chair Amy Marasco.

At its July 24 meeting, the subcommittee recommended that new construction or renovations in the 100-year floodplain be required to increase freeboard from 18 to 36 inches above base flood elevation. That would allow building height to increase to 35 1/2 feet.

The recommendation also encouraged city council to increase freeboard to 18 inches above base flood elevation for structures built or renovated in the 500-year floodplain. There is currently no freeboard requirement in the 500-year areas. Building height in those areas would be capped at 34 feet.

The subcommittee’s recommendation says people who build in areas outside the floodplain can voluntarily choose to meet the 500-year floodplain standards and still be allowed a 34-foot height, an increase from the current 30 1/2 feet. Centerline elevation would continue to be used to determine base flood elevation in areas not in the floodplain.

The subcommittee recommended the changes go into effect two years after they are passed by council.

“We’re planting a flag and saying ‘this is coming,’ but you’ve got time,” said Marasco.

The proposal would give the same benefits to anyone who builds or renovates before the two years.



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