FEMA Floodplain Changes

Pending Changes to FEMA Floodplain Regulations



For a number of years, the Township has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). By including FEMA’s floodplain development regulations in our Zoning Ordinance, we assure that Township property owners are able to secure flood insurance and that overall risk of property damage due to flooding is reduced, as the regulations control development in flood-prone areas. While the original intent of the National Flood Insurance Program was to assure that residents of flood-prone areas could not be denied flood insurance, mortgage lenders now recognize that the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or “FIRMs,” provide a way for them to reduce their risk of loss from flooding. Virtually all lenders now require their customers to procure flood insurance as a condition of approving a mortgage or home equity loan where the property is totally or partially within the 100-year floodplain shown on the FIRM.

FIRMs identify flood risk using a combination of detailed studies and estimates based upon topographic mapping and aerial photography. FEMA updates the FIRMs in our area approxi­mately every ten years. The updates show changes to the extent of flood-prone areas due to changes in topography caused by new development as well as new detailed studies and new predictive flood models.

What to Expect

The current FIRM’s for West Whiteland Township were adopted in 2006. FEMA has been working on updated versions of the FIRMs since 2015, and they are now in their final form. You can view the new maps by clicking on “Interactive FIRM Map” below. Along with the FIRMs, FEMA has updated the regulations, which we will be adopting as an amendment to our Zoning Ordinance. Township staff has completed their review of these new regulations, modifying the format to be compatible with the Zoning Ordinance. This summer, staff will ask the Board of Supervisors for authorization to initiate the adoption process, which must be completed by September 29.

The biggest change for Township property owners is the FIRMs, as the area subject to the floodplain regulations is based upon them. The regulations themselves are similar to what we already have. Our current approach is to prohibit all development in floodplain areas unless the property owner has secured a variance from the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board. The new regulations preserve this strategy, and the standards for review of variance applications is also much the same as it is now.

For additional information, please click one of the following links:

· Flood Insurance 
· Interactive FIRM Map