|By Dameon Pesanti, The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
But when he brought those changes before the council, it became a discussion over the actual value of flood precautions.
"What you're proposing is no big deal," Councilman
Gallagher, a professional engineer, took issue with the three different minimum building heights required by the city to be above base flood elevations.
Under the ordinance, new residential homes built in the floodplain must be 2 feet or more above base flood minimums, nonresidential buildings and manufactured homes must be 1 foot, and critical facilities must be at least 3 feet.
"Why three different spots?" Gallagher asked Pierson. "During my engineering job it's been 1 foot all the time no matter what ...
The council approved the ordinance in 2007 in the wake of that year's massive flood.
Pierson explained that the city has a zero-rise floodplain overlay area, and essentially during a flood certain parts of the city are more inundated than others.
Having these different elevation requirements gives the city a better rating with the
A lower rating means lower flood insurance costs for citizens because less homes are likely to be significantly damaged in a flood. On a scale of 0-10 (10 being the worst)
"You can go to the (FEMA) minimum which would be 1 foot ... and your rates would go up," Pierson said.
Pierson said the city has been able to lower its flood insurance rates by about 25 percent since it started in 2007.
"I agree with Pat, we need consistency," he said. "Where does the individual have the choice to build or not build?"
"If you lower these standards you're not going to hurt, but your insurance payers are going to hurt," he said.
"The issue central to this is, where do we draw that line to how much is enough and where we go too far," Gallagher said.
Pierson said he doubted that the current requirements have stopped anyone from building, and pulling sodden insulation from underneath people's unraised homes as he did in 2007 wasn't "a joy" in his life.
"Your height requirements have been in place for six years," he said. "I'm not an advocate either way, I just enforce your codes and your requirements ... It's a lot of hoops to jump through to save your taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Elmore said he didn't realize the ordinance had been on the books for six years, but he wants to know if the costs of raising developments is oustripped by the savings.
"That's my concern, that we're not putting undue burden on potential growth and making us an undevelopable community," he said later.
The council eventually agreed to discuss the issue at a later date with a flood expert from
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