Commissioners to talk FEMA maps and lots at legislative conference

Published 8:16 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Beaufort County commissioners are headed to the “big” Washington.

Six commissioners are attending the National Association of Counties’ annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., March 3-7. They’ll be numbered among more than 2,000 elected and appointed county officials there to “elevate the county voice at the national level,” according to the conference’s website.

Commissioners have meetings set up with U.S. senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, as well as U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones, Jr., according to Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood.

Alligood said commissioners primarily will be addressing three issues at the federal level: new FEMA flood maps, census tracks and county-owned FEMA-regulated property.

In recent Board of Commissioners meetings, the issue of FEMA flood maps has arisen, specifically, the slow pace at which new maps are being adopted. Many properties previously included in the 100-year floodplain are not included in the new maps, which could greatly affect the amount of money a homeowner is paying for flood insurance.
“What they’ve talked about is trying to push forward and get the new FEMA maps adopted,” Alligood said.

Another land issue is on the agenda: a request to make census tracks in the county smaller as areas of affluence and poverty can be included in the same track, thus skewing statistics so some areas are ineligible for federal economic-assistance programs. Alligood used Aurora as an example, where waterfront property and areas of extreme poverty are grouped together.

County commissioners will also be looking for a way to resolve another FEMA-related issue. When FEMA designates a lot as being unbuildable after a disaster, through a flood mitigation grant program local government purchases those properties, but certain restrictions are placed on their use.

“Right now, FEMA lots have to remain with the government; the problem is government has to maintain it,” Alligood said.

He said commissioners are looking for ways to resolve the county-funded maintenance issue, including proposing some lots be sold, but under the condition that restrictions remain.

“If someone has a FEMA lot next door that they want to buy as a ‘buffer’ lot, we think we ought to be able to sell it,” Alligood said.

The Board of Commissioners’ regularly scheduled meeting has been postponed until March 12 due to the legislative conference. Commissioner Ron Buzzeo is not attending the conference.