Planning and Development Services
2020 Flood Damage Prevention Code Updates
Planning Commission Recorded Motion (August 18, 2020)
Public Comments (7/24/20)
On October 29, 2013, the Department received a list of 11 requested code amendments from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) for the chapters Definitions, SCC 14.04 and Flood Damage Prevention, SCC 14.34. These requests were in follow up to a Community Assistance Visit that Ecology conducted with Skagit County in order to assess the County’s compliance with the floodplain management minimum criteria of the National Flood Insurance Program as administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In order to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, communities are required to be fully compliant to the programs’ minimum standards for floodplain management and Community Assistance Visits (CAVs). CAVs are used by the FEMA to monitor continued compliance and are conducted on a regular basis and in Washington they are traditionally performed every five years by the Ecology on behalf of the FEMA. When conducted, CAVs may identify gaps in compliance and the reviewing agency advises the community on changes needed in order to remain fully compliant.
If a community fails to remedy the noncompliance, FEMA can take the action under 44 CFR 59.24 Suspension of Community Eligibility and suspend communities from participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. When a suspension occurs, flood insurance is not available, property owners can be fined, and federally backed home owner purchasing financing is lost.
The code amendments requested of Skagit County by Ecology consisted of minor changes in language and definitions. Skagit County’s Floodplain Manager reviewed Ecology’s requests and in January of 2014 returned the code amendments to Ecology. The National Flood Insurance Program State Coordinator confirmed that the revisions were sufficient and no further action is required once the amendments are implemented.
An additional change proposed by the Skagit County Floodplain Manager to the Coastal Zone A will provide consistency with the International building Code. This proposed change to SCC 14.34.210 references the International Residential Code for applicants building within the Coastal A zone. The flood hazards in this zone are associated with high velocity waters and tidal surges. Existing building standards in the 2015 International Residential Code reflects this.
Proposed Code Amendments
The purpose of the code amendments is to remain compliant with the FEMA’s floodplain management minimum criteria and continue Skagit County participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The Ecology request that Skagit County eliminate SCC 14.34.160(4) Wet Floodproofing Standards for Agricultural and Utility Use Structures was rejected because Skagit County has FEMA-approved policies for wet floodproofing. Ecology concurred and confirmed that this subsection need not be eliminated. Additionally, the request that Skagit County include VE Zones in SCC 14.34.210 Standards for Construction in Coastal High Hazard Areas is not proposed because Skagit County does not encompass any VE Zones, only V Zones. Ecology reviewed and concurred. Two of the requests made by Ecology were duplicate requests and thus only one amendment to the code was made.
In addition to the FEMA minimum criteria update, a proposed change to Chapter 14.34.210 provides consistency with the International Residential Code, and clarity to applicants within the coastal “A” zone.