Ocean City Today

Downtown flood mitigation still under study

By Greg Ellison | Feb 01, 2018
Courtesy of: Jessica Waters Planning Director Bill Neville requested additional time to compile data for a downtown flood mitigation study during a City Council work session on Tuesday.

(Feb. 2, 2018) Ongoing work to update a hazard mitigation plan seeking long-term solutions for first-to-flood areas downtown was extended until May 1, based on a request from Planning Director Bill Neville.

“It is a complicated issue,” Neville said during a City Council work session on Tuesday. “We need to get more information and make sure we’re headed in the right direction.”

Last May, the council approved updating the hazard mitigation plan to develop an action plan for raising lot and street elevations downtown, with recommendations from planning and community development staff requested within six months.

Since that time, Neville discovered there are a number of city codes that would need to be amended to address the situation.

“We found one code section doesn’t get the job done,” he said. “It will take a combined proposal to amend a series of codes to address this idea.”

Information from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association, tracking high tide and rainfall data, also needs to be analyzed, Neville said.

“The first decision is what are we hoping to elevate to,” he said. “If we want to elevate the streets, the lots have to be higher.”

The general idea is having lots elevated to a level sufficient to drain in the street, which would be at a lower elevation, Neville said, while not putting water somewhere it didn’t go previously.

“We plan to take representative examples and come back with more specific code language,” he said.

Councilman Wayne Hartman said an action plan should be formulated to establish elevation standards for future development.

“Each time there is another redevelopment project, it makes it that much harder to do in the future,” he said.

Coastal resiliency is the goal and also a major concern for federal partners, Neville said.

“This is also what the hazard mitigation folks at FEMA want us to be thinking about,” he said.

Councilman Tony DeLuca said a logical next step would be including a flood mitigation project in the capital improvement plan.

“We need a placeholder, like street paving and canal dredging,” he said. “If this is successful, we need to identify the dollars and sources of funding.”

Councilman Dennis Dare envisioned the process taking much longer than the five-year scope of the Capital Improvement Plan.

“It’s probably going to be decades – not days, weeks, or years,” he said.

Though time consuming, Hartman said the lengthy process should begin now.

“This is an important first step,” he said. “We need to get the lots elevated, so the streets can be elevated.”

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