Flood Plan

City workers try to divert flood waters from Tropical Storm Ian off the streets near the intersection of Wayne Avenue and and Halleck Street in New Smyrna Beach.

While New Smyrna Beach residents are familiar with flooding, Tropical Storm Ian highlighted major issues inside and out of flood zones.

To delay further flooding, the Planning and Zoning Board discussed a Temporary Development Moratorium Nov. 7, in between Tropical Storms Ian and Nicole. The moratorium was brought to the board in hopes of providing a recommendation to the City Commission.

The commission wanted city staff to review the impact from Ian and potentially alter the Land Development Regulations or Code of Ordinances in reference to drainage, stormwater management and flood plain management.

An approval would result in “A temporary moratorium … hereby imposed on all rezonings, including amendments to Master Development Agreements, site plan approvals, plats and variances associated with residential subdivisions of 10 acres or more in the city” according to the proposed ordinance.

Potential developments will not be approved or processed during the moratorium. Those reviewed by the board before the effective date can continue through the development process.

As proposed, the moratorium is concerned with properties within FEMA flood zones A & AE and will last until Feb. 23.

During the meeting, Board Member Brooks Weiss mentioned a memorandum document submitted by the NSB Residents Coalition. However, since it was sent in last minute, there was no time for review of the document before the meeting.

It was brought to the attention of the board the moratorium covered the two specific flood zones, instead of the entire city, due to information and data the city engineer provided from his analysis after the storm.

When the floor opened for comments, Chair Sandra Smith said she would’ve liked the memorandum “done citywide rather than just specific flood zones” as she believes “we do have issues, obvious, with retention on some sites and with some sites being overdeveloped.”

Although the moratorium was brought in front of the board to be molded and changed as seen fit, the expectation was a motion to move forward that night. The first reading will be at the Dec. 13. If approved quickly, development and more potential issues with flooding could come to a halt faster, however, this does not allow much time for changes to the documents wording.

Residents at the meeting spoke about flooding in their neighborhood that likely resulted from recent development. Some believe certain regulations were ignored during development in spaces near their homes.

Those that faulted development near their homes believe natural flood areas and water retention areas were removed due to new housing or retail space and therefore forced the water into their neighborhoods.

Resident Michelle Lindsey stated the immense flooding, propelled by a recent residential development near her neighborhood, is making her consider moving from her beloved home and away from her trusted neighbors of years.

“'I’m not here to tell you to stop development,” Ms. Lindsey said. “I'm here to beg you to stop irresponsible development. The (new) subdivisions just to the west of me were high and dry through this storm. The water that used to collect in these undeveloped areas had to go somewhere.”

That somewhere was Ms. Lindsey’s neighborhood of more than 21 years.

She also commented, like other residents, about the length of the proposed plan saying “this moratorium isn’t even long enough” and how “it does need to be city wide. Hurricanes are not going away … we can’t do this to our oldest neighborhood”

A resident for 61 years, David Pogany said the flooding in his yard has “gotten worse since Tractor Supply went in. They raised all that up, all those woods off to the side.” As a result, his home received a lot of the water run-off that would have pooled in the woods instead.

“I urge the city and the county to consider the drainage when they’re putting in these places … the whole neighborhood can’t emphasize enough that it really needs to be addressed, Mr. Pogany said.

Resident Claudia Vanderhorst said she, “watched in horror as the runoff came out of Coastal Woods (a new development near her home) … to the point where it entered into the back side and in between all the homes.

“Infrastructure needs to be corrected, assessed and repaired before any more building takes place … we aren’t in a flood plain and to limit that moratorium to only floodplains is irresponsible in my opinion because the evidence is areas that aren’t in a floodplain, flooded” Ms. Vanderhorst said.

After citizen comments, the board approved recommending the moratorium to the City Commission.

“This gives the city an opportunity, specifically Staff, to go ahead and gauge where they’re at and start making those plans. Part of this ordinance states that it can be extended if it needs to later on by another ordinance,” Board Member Larry Wheatcraft said.

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