Council Votes Thursday on New Flood Elevation Ordinance
The revised local ordinance would require the first floor of Ocean City homes to be two feet above the level of a 100-year flood.
City Council will vote Thursday on the second and potentially final reading of a revised ordinance that would raise required first-floor elevations for new or reconstructed homes in Ocean City.
The ordinance is a detailed revision of building regulations (see attached PDF for full text), but the general idea is to raise Ocean City homes two feet above the level of a 100-year flood.
The discussion and vote on the ordinance takes place at a public meeting of City Council 7 p.m. Jan. 10 in the lecture room at the Ocean City Free Public Library. The first reading of the ordinance passed in a 6-1 vote at the council meeting on Nov. 29.
The ordinance had been drafted and considered by the Planning Board before Superstorm Sandy struck on Oct. 29, but the record storm served as a sobering reminder of the intent of the proposed new regulation.
Base flood elevation, or BFE, is the height storm waters have a 1 percent chance of reaching in any given year and serves as the baseline for building guidelines.
The existing ordinance requires the first floor of a home to be one foot above BFE. The proposed ordinance would require the first floor to be two feet above BFE. In some cases (such as when floor joists are parallel to the ocean and square to incoming waves in high-hazard flood zones, FEMA's "V" Zones), the habitable space must be three feet above BFE.
The new rules would put structures such as floor joists a foot or two above BFE.
With higher first floors, the proposed ordinance allows for higher roof peaks and greater roof pitches. And maximum building heights are measured from the BFE, instead of the centerline of the street.
The ordinance would apply to any new home constructed in Ocean City and to any home that undergoes reconstruction or renovation that costs 50 percent or more of the assessed value of the structure.
At the same time, compliance with base flood elevation guidelines will also be a factor in determining future flood insurance premiums on the barrier island.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently adjusted its base flood elevation readings for much of New Jersey. The new BFE map will serve as the baseline for Ocean City's "BFE +2" ordinance. Information on the new elevations is included in the following resources: