Planning for Floods in North Haven

Posted on 04 December 2008

As the tides change, apparently so do the flood plains. The last time the flood zones were assessed in the village of North Haven 145 houses were in a high risk flood zone; now, in the most recent assessment, only 20 homes are in the zone.
“That’s an 86 percent reduction of houses on the flood plain,” said North Haven Environmental Planning Consultant Rich Warren at a village board meeting there on Monday. Warren gave a presentation using the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps indicating where standards have changed and which houses are considered vulnerable along the coast in North Haven.
“These were surprising changes,” Warren said, “They [FEMA] are predicting what a 100-year storm might do – if it would be something like the 1938 hurricane.”
Warren explained that all the work for the past flood maps were compiled using an old data system – NGDV 1929 — which was less accurate and has been updated to a new, digital data system – NAS 1988.
“The land didn’t change, the reference point changed,” said Warren who added that the new reference point for the flood maps is down one foot, which has reduced the number of homes in the flood plain in some places like North Haven. But in other places, like Sagaponack, he noted, the number of homes in the flood zone have risen from 46 to 119 largely due to beach erosion and damage from significant storms that have occurred in the past.
Sag Harbor Village, Warren said, has seen a similar reduction of homes in the flood plain, from 179 to 46 — a 47 percent reduction.
The presentation Warren gave the North Haven board was put together by FEMA and given last month to building inspectors and other town officials in Southampton. Warren said that FEMA hired a Virginia firm to conduct an extensive study on Long Island.
Warren explained that the “special flood hazard area” or “base flood” is commonly known as the 100- year flood plain, but can more accurately be thought of as an area that has a 1 percent chance of experiencing a flood in any given year. Warren noted that the chance of a base flood happening is 26 percent in a 30-year period.
Somes in the V zones – zones, which are at highest risk of a flood in North Haven — must be above the base flood elevation plus an additional two feet as required by State law. Homes in an A zone are less at risk than a V zone property.
“Those in zone X are the least likely to experience a flood,” Warren said for homes further away from the shoreline in North Haven.
“They [FEMA] are encouraging people not to drop their flood insurance even if they are no longer in the floodplain,” Warren said and noted that the maps only rely on computer modeling.
During the meeting, North Haven trustee Jim Smyth asked Warren, “What’s happening to my bar?”
Smyth’s business, The Corner Bar is right on a flood plain line, bordering to zone X.
Warren said it was “worth looking into” because it is right on a floodplain line. Warren also noted that the site – http://rmc.mapmodteam.com/RMC2/Counties_Suffolk.htm –
is being set up so residents and business owners can enter their addresses and the site will accurately depict in which flood zone a particular property is located.

Filming in North Haven:
Also on Monday night, the village board adopted a new local law for filming in the village and set a public hearing for January 6 at 5 p.m.
Two months ago at their regular monthly meeting, the village trustees in North Haven were concerned with the wording of a draft local law concerning filming in their area. Last time, deputy mayor Jeff Sander said the board should consider adding a more descriptive definition of filming for the area and also recommended adding more uses for the methods of viewing the footage. Sander also questioned the requirements on filming for educational purposes and said he believed permits should only be required for commercial projects.
The draft law was sent back to the drawing board for village attorney Anthony Tohill to reconsider. Tohill decided not to change the draft legislation and it was presented on Monday night, in its original form.
The new law requires a permit to be obtained from the village of North Haven first, before any filming may take place in the village. The fine for failing to obtain a permit can be up to $1,000. The price of the permit, however, varies on the size and scope of the project.

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