Floodplain Ordinance 2021

Enhancing the City’s flood resiliency and responding to increased threats due to climate change are priorities identified in the 2020 Comprehensive Plan and support the strategic goals of CommUNITY 2030, the City’s strategic plan.

Last updated in 2009 as a part of City Code Chapter 25 (Water), in 2021 the City established a new standalone floodplain ordinance (FPO) in Chapter 31 following the latest model from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

The new FPO:

  • Establishes the City Engineer as the Floodplain Administrator and defines specific roles and responsibilities.
  • Is written in regulatory language, eliminating permissive and unenforceable language.
  • Is consistent with the State regulatory requirements in nontidal waters of the State.
  • Retains most of the long-standing recommendations from previous model ordinances.
  • Add many new definitions and clarifications.
  • Incorporates the latest FEMA-published Flood Insurance Rating Maps (FIRM)s.

For development in Special Flood Hazard Areas (also known as the 100-year frequency floodplain),

  • Establishes new permitting requirement, administered by the floodplain administrator.
  • Increases minimum elevation for lowest floor from FIRM plus 1 foot to FIRM plus 2 feet.
  • Prohibits basement floors that are below grade on all sides.
  • Improves the definition of and clarifies aspects of “Substantial Improvement”. Threshold changed from 5% to the minimum NFIP standard of 50%. Cumulative effects incorporated, and terminology broadened to support tracking of the permit for the life of the structure.
  • To ensure that both current and future owners are informed of flood-resistant aspects of enclosures, crawlspaces, and accessory structures, the Declaration of Land Restriction (DLR) form, (Non-conversion Agreement form), is recorded with the property deed to inform future homeowners of the restrictions.