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Louisa County floodplain rules get another look

Posted on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 5:00 am

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County leaders scheduled a vote next week to complete changes to the floodplain ordinance that infuriated some residents and pleased others when they were passed more than two years ago.

Officials with the Louisa County Community Development Department explained that the supervisors need to act on March 18 to delete the old floodplain rules, as was intended when the board voted to do so on Oct. 3, 2016.

Usually an ordinance is deleted or amended as soon as the supervisors vote on it. But Robert Gardner, community development director, said the changes to the ordinance were never sent to Municode, the company that maintains the county code. Gardner decided a second public hearing is required, to be on the safe side.

The supervisors adopted a new floodplain ordinance on Oct. 26, 2016. Unlike the old ordinance, the new one allows people to build homes and commercial structures in a floodplain. Five of the current supervisors voted to adopt the new rules.

The effect of the board’s 2016 actions was to cause the county to be suspended from the federal flood insurance program.

At the time, some 60 properties in the county received flood insurance through the federal program, and stood to lose their coverage.

Louisa County is the only one of Virginia’s 98 counties that does not participate in the flood insurance program.

The board rejected a proposed new ordinance suggested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Numerous county landowners, including farmers, land developers and others, told board members FEMA’s proposed language was an attempt to gut local land use authority and diminish property rights. One landowner, Charles Purcell, participated in a conference call with the supervisors and FEMA officials during a 2016 public meeting and helped draft the new ordinance.

(Article by David Holtzman)

This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s March 14, 2019 issue.

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