Chris Sargent, Senior Planner
[email protected] – 802-457-3188 ex. 12
Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner
[email protected] – 802-457-3188 ex. 24
Governor Shumlin signed Act 16 into law at the end of the 2013 legislative session. In Act 16 the legislature added a new state planning goal and a new element (Flood Resiliency Plan) to town and regional plans. The plan elements are meant to do two main functions – identify areas at risk of flood damage or storage through a map, and then recommend ways to protect these areas and to minimize flood damage.
ANR is tasked with providing the mapping that will guide this plan element, which essentially will cover five areas:
- the FEMA mapped floodplains;
- river corridors, which are the valley bottoms that rivers may move laterally within and may be beyond the mapped floodplains;
- stream buffers, areas along all of the smaller streams that would have the detailed FEMA or river corridor maps but are still a source of flood damage, especially in flash floods;
- wetlands, as these help to absorb and slow floods and “upland forests”, a more vague category that could include all sorts of wooded areas, but may come to mean steeper mountainsides.
With available map data towns or regions can call out the parts of these areas they desire for protection. The way this new element of statute is written clearly implies that most areas need some sort of protection to stay within the spirit of the law. As part of this element, towns and regions are supposed to craft policies on what kind of protection they desire. Towns and regions will need to seek to at a minimum not worsen flooding, and better yet, to lessen existing risk.
The new “Flood Resiliency” Plan becomes a mandatory requirement for municipal and regional plans in July of 2014. Any communities that are working on plan revisions or are planning to revise their plans soon should include this chapter. Staff at TRORC can offer suggestions as to what types of policies should be considered in this chapter.