Ascension to vote on development restrictions
ASCENSION PARISH - Restrictions on dirt-fill for elevating new houses could soon be approved by the parish council. The debate stems directly from the 2016 flood that inundated thousands of existing residents.
Many blame the use of dirt-fill in flood prone areas as a contributing factor to flooding. Wednesday, May 8 the council will hold a public meeting about the proposed development standards in advance of a vote at the May 16 meeting.
Among the proposals:
-Dirt-fill will be capped at three feet.
-New houses must be built two feet above flood elevation in 100-year flood zones or equal to flood elevation in 500-year flood zones.
-Fill mitigation such as detention ponds will be inspected yearly and repaired when needed.
Parish Councilman Bill Dawson said developers will have to construct pier and beam style houses on top of the dirt-fill if the three-foot cap prevents them from reaching the base flood elevation for a concrete slab home.
"For people that build for the future in Ascension Parish, this will determine if they flood in 30 years from now," he said.
Developers have stated the proposals are unnecessary. Some have said existing mitigation like detention ponds protect neighbors from storm runoff.
Developers have said municipal and parish governments in the capital region have failed to maintain major drainage ways which has a much greater impact on flooding. They've also raised concerns about a loss of property values in low lying areas and an increased cost for buyers of new homes.
Livingston Parish and the City of Central are considering changes similar to Ascension's.
Ascension Parish released the following information Friday about Wednesday's public meeting and the proposed changes:
Ascension Floodplain Ordinance Public Meeting
Ascension Parish Planning and Development Department and Department of Public works will hold a public meeting on proposed changes to the Parish floodplain ordinance.
The meeting will take place Wednesday, May 8, from 5:00 pm until 6:00 pm in the conference room at the Ascension Parish Governmental Complex, 615 East Worthey Street, Gonzales.
The Parish is seeking input on the following proposed changes:
Floodplain Management Ordinance:
§ Mitigate flooding in floodplain by:
o Limiting fill to 3 feet in both 100 year and 500 year floodplain (FP) – Compromise from not allowing any to unlimited. That will push foundation to pier and beam above 3 feet.
o Require lowest floor elevation to be 2 feet above 100 year BFE in 100 year FP and at 500 year BFE for those areas only in 500 year FP.
o Have zero net fill in all areas of 100 year and 500 year floodplain. Leave exception for lots less than ½ acre.
o Require mitigation facilities to have annual operational inspection by professional engineer.
o Follow our current ordinances by requiring fill permits in the parish and enforcing ordinance 60.3(c). Limit to one foot all effects of new development.
o After adoption:
§ Need to identify potential conveyance areas (Floodways)
§ Need to identify where emergency services need to be located and elevated.
§ Check for necessary changes to other ordinances for consistency.
o Also, how changes would affect CRS.
§ Provide a 30 day period for individual lot owners who have had plans drawn for them to apply for a one time exemption to the new rules.
§ Subdivisions with submitted or approved preliminary plats or a pre-application submittal in accordance with 17-404 will be allowed to complete as approved.
§ Ordinance will be effective as soon as adopted.
Quick Review of our Ordinances
§ Our current proposed revision is to the Land Development Code (LDC) Appendix V Drainage (17-501 thru 17-5091).
§ In Section 9.5 Flood Damage Prevention of our Code of Ordinances there is a repeat of much of the language at Appendix V.
o 9.5 specifically requires Development Permits.
o It also specifically requires control of filling in the floodplain.
o 9.5-32(1). Lowest floor shall be elevated to or above the BFE.
§ In the LDC Section IV Drainage
o 17-4045 A. All drainage design shall be based on the 10 year 24 event.
§ 17-4044 K. All primary buildings in any subdivision in FEMA Flood Zone A, or A1 – A00 shall be constructed with a minimum elevation of one (1) foot above the base flood elevation.
The full ordinance, with highlighted proposed changes, can be seen on the Parish website: www.ascensionparish.net.
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