Requirements for Building in the Floodplain
How and where buildings are built makes all the difference in how much damage is done during a flood. To protect personal health, safety, welfare, and property, there are regulations in place outlining what can and can't be done in floodplains.
On the Federal Level, FEMA provides that those wishing to develop floodplains need:
- A Permit for Floodplain Development
- The National Flood Insurance Program Elevation Certificate and Instructions: these are usually needed by insurance agents for homes or businesses in high-risk areas
Virginia State Building Code has requirements regarding floodproofing buildings, which can be found in Section 1612 of the 2015 Virginia State Building Code.
The City of Lynchburg's Zoning Ordinance, Article IV Section 35.2-59 explains the following:
- What must be done to alter or relocate a watercourse
- Prohibited uses
- Uses permitted by-right
- Regulation of real estate sales
- Procedures required for variances
- Requirements for building permits
The City of Lynchburg also has Plan Requirements for grading and new structures. These include:
Sec. 24.1-16. - Flooding
Land subject to flooding and land deemed to be topographically unsuitable shall not be platted for residential occupancy, nor for such other uses as may increase danger to health, life, or property, or aggravate erosion or flood hazard. Such land within the subdivision shall be set aside on the
plat for such uses as shall not be endangered by periodic or occasional flooding or shall not produce conditions contrary to public welfare.
Sec. 24.1-16.1. - Possible Flood Plain
To ensure that owners will have sufficient land upon which to build a structure that is flood-free, compliance with floodway widths and the 100-year flood elevations contained within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood insurance study (FIS) is mandatory. The city planner may require the subdivider to provide elevation and flood profiles based on a 100-year flood plain (which means a flood of a magnitude likely to happen, on average, only once every century) sufficient to demonstrate the land to be completely free of the danger of flood water at an elevation of at least three feet below any probable floor level of any building for human occupancy.
(Ord. Number O-10-034, 4-27-10, eff. 7-1-10)
Sec. 24.1-16.2. - Flood Control and Drainage
The subdivider shall provide the information necessary to determine what improvements are required to develop the subject property, including topography, drainage plans, and flood control devices. The plans for such improvements shall include a statement from a licensed professional engineer or other persons appropriately licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, that such improvements when installed will be adequate for development. In subdivisions where the streets are dedicated to public use, the city engineer shall either approve or disapprove the plans.
Always check with the Community Development Department at 434-455-3900 or visit the Customer Service Center on the second floor of City Hall, 900 Church Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504, before you build on or alter property in the floodplain.
Useful FEMA Publications:
- Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home from Flooding
- Above the Flood: Elevating Your Floodprone House
- Protecting Manufactured Homes
- Protecting Building Utilities from Flood Damage
- Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage
- Elevated Residential Structures
- Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding: A Guide for Communities