Deadline nearing to change appeal flood map changes
HIGHLANDS COUNTY - Residents of Highlands County have until May 2 to appeal proposed changes in county flood maps if their property was designated in the revised map as part of a flood zone, which could mean they’ll pay thousands of dollars a year for flood insurance.
But the basis of the appeal must be “something more than I don’t want to have to pay for insurance,” said Martin L. Fitts, a planner with Highlands County Development Services.
Fitts said they must have some evidence showing the property is not in a flood area or that there was “mitigation (action, such as a levee) not reflected on the maps.”
When the changes are completed, it will be the first time the maps have been altered since 1983, Fitts said. Pending the number of appeals and Federal Emergency Management Agency approval, the revised maps could take effect by the end of this year.
As a result of those changes, some residences that weren’t in flood zones will be in flood zones and others that were in flood zones will be in non-flood zone areas. The changes could be a deciding factor on whether residents have to pay national flood insurance premiums that typically range from $462 to $11,214 per year. Fitts said that if people find their property is now in a flood zone and they are paying off a mortgage, the bank will in all likelihood require flood insurance. But, he said, if they don’t have a mortgage, no law exists requiring them to have the insurance. If their property floods, though, and they don’t have insurance, they could find it “very difficult,” if not impossible, to get federal recovery money, he said. Some residents in some areas of the county may find they are no longer in flood area because of levees or other improvements, he said. RE/MAX Realty Plus Broker Chip Boring said he found out that his property won’t be moved into a flood zone and believes others should research how their property is affected. He said the revision will be a plus for people living in areas that don’t typically flood. But, others will end up paying more, he said, adding he thinks it’s unfair for people in areas that don’t flood to subsidize coverage for those who live in flood-prone areas. Appeals can be made to the South Florida or Southwest Florida Water Management districts, depending on where a person lives. The proposed revised map is available at http://bakeraecom.com/index.php/florida/highlands
Additional information can be obtained by calling Fitts at (863) 402-6650.