Commissioners approve flood maps

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After waiting six years for a federal agency to complete new and updated floodplain maps, Routt County commissioners plan to act more quickly to revise the county's floodplain building regulations.

On Tuesday, county commissioners approved a series of floodplain maps compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The maps, which document areas such as a section of the Elk River to its confluence with the Yampa River, a section of the Yampa River from Carpenter Ranch to the east side of Hayden and the Yampa River from Lake Catamount through the city of Steamboat Springs and to Saddle Mountain, detail how specific areas would be affected by a 100-year flood.

The county received final drafts of the maps in November, and a 90-day public comment period began in April. Neither the county nor FEMA received any comments or disputes from the public regarding the accuracy of the maps, according to the draft resolution accepting the maps.

The joint project between the county and FEMA began in 1998 when the federal agency approached the county to gauge its interest in updating and expanding the coverage of existing Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs. Some of the newly updated maps revise FIRMs approved by the county in 1989.

Now, with maps in hand, the county will look at updating its floodplain building regulations.

Current regulations stipulate any building constructed in a floodplain must be built two feet above the base flood level, Routt County Floodplain Administrator Chad Phillips said. Construction can't take place in floodway areas -- those areas where water channels during floods. Floodplains are areas of level land likely to be submerged during floods.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she has heard from residents who think the county should adopt stricter regulations, including forbidding new construction in flood areas. The public will be given an opportunity to comment on the regulations before any changes are adopted, she said.

Commissioners didn't say how or which, if any, floodplain building regulations may be revised. The county is in the process of updating its zoning and subdivision regulations.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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