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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

400 properties will soon be out of the floodplain

Posted By on Wed, Jan 7, 2015 at 1:18 PM

click to enlarge Floods may still be a threat. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Floods may still be a threat.
The city is working on a plan to reclassify 400 properties so that they are no longer listed in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's floodplain.

The move would have taken place in the coming years anyway, as FEMA is updating its flood maps. But the city is working to expedite the process, meaning it will take just six to nine months. Once the change is official, the properties in question will no longer be required to carry flood insurance, and developing or expanding the properties will be much cheaper and easier. That's important because the city wants to help the Springs Rescue Mission build a homeless day center in the area. The property is currently in the floodplain.

Tim Mitros, city stormwater manager, says the shelter was the impetus for the city's actions. Initially, he says, the city was just hoping to bring Springs Rescue Mission out of the floodplain. But it quickly became clear that it wouldn't be much more trouble to target the entire reach of Fountain Creek from Manitou to the southern corporate limits near Circle Drive. 

Mitros says development in floodplains can be difficult or even impossible. A developer must get a special permit, hire an engineer, and be able to meet strict requirements. Flood insurance, particularly for commercial businesses, can also be prohibitively expensive. He notes that similar actions have been taken for Manitou Springs, as well as areas around Cheyenne Creek and Stratmoor Valley. 

Mitros says that some areas along Fountain Creek will remain in the floodplain — and that likely includes properties that have recently flooded. He feels that properties that are no longer in the floodplain can likely drop their insurance. 

But, he notes, "The risk is always there, let's just put it that way."

That's particularly true because the effects of the Waldo Canyon Fire are not considered in FEMA flood maps. The fire left barren hillsides that allow rainwater to shoot at high speeds into watersheds. That's greatly increased the chance of flooding. On the bright side, though, properties that are not in the floodplain should be able to buy cheaper flood insurance should they wish to carry it.

Here's the rest of the story from the city:

City to redraft FEMA floodplain map to eliminate flood insurance requirements for 400 properties and clear way for homeless day center construction

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The City of Colorado Springs is submitting a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) to redraft the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain map that would eliminate flood insurance requirements for 400 properties along the entire reach of Fountain Creek from Manitou to the southern corporate limits near Circle Drive (see attached map of current and proposed FEMA floodplain).

The reclassification of these properties will have a positive impact on redevelopment, including the Springs Rescue Mission. The Springs Rescue Mission owns property on west Las Vegas Street adjacent to Fountain Creek and was planning to expand its campus to serve area homeless with the understanding that FEMA was in the process of a map revision that would take the property out of the floodplain. However, the Springs Rescue Mission discovered that it would take several years for the maps to be officially adopted, making construction more difficult and expensive.

“Floodplain issues were holding up City investment in critical homeless services,” said Aimee Cox, Community Initiatives Manager for the City of Colorado Springs. In an effort to expedite the acceptance of the new mapping and move forward with construction of the day center, City staff convened with the Springs Rescue Mission and Keith Curtis, FEMA Regional Floodplain Manager and identified a strategy for revising the “official” floodplain maps to reduce the process timeline down to 6 to 9 months through a LOMR. This LOMR enables Springs Rescue Mission to move forward with additional land acquisition and planning to build a homeless day center.

“We have been working with the City and community leaders to address the needs for over a year; this is a major breakthrough. We are in the final stages of five-year strategic plan and site master plan that will address the critical service needs of our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. We appreciate the vision and leadership that the City has taken on this, and we look forward to making this long awaited Resource Center a reality,” says Larry Yonker, President and CEO of Springs Rescue Mission.

In addition to the Fountain Creek LOMR, LOMRs have been completed or are being processed for Manitou Springs, Stratmore [sic] Valley and Cheyenne Creek. In total, more than 1,000 properties will be positively impacted by the proposed map revisions due to the elimination of flood insurance requirements and gaining the ability to redevelop these properties which were not allowed this opportunity while located in a floodplain.

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