Fearing the Floodplain? 4 Reasons Development Might Make Sense

18 May, 2018

With prime real estate hard to come by in many markets, developers are forced to reevaluate sites they may have turned down in the past. This includes floodplain-flagged locations. Many times, when a site shows up on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood map, it is crossed off the list. From uncertainty about the site’s maximum potential, to choosing the right FEMA application (there are six) and navigating a complex approval process, it’s no wonder floodplain sites are often discarded.

If a Site Appears On a Flood Map, It Doesn’t Mean All Of It, Or Any Of It, Is Actually in the Floodplain

FEMA looks at the big picture, monitoring a vast floodplain area. Your site is a small segment of that map, and upon closer inspection, it may not entirely be affected by the floodplain. A topographic survey will provide more detailed contours and a clearly-defined floodplain area.

An Experienced Design Professional Can Design Around It

Even if a portion of your site actually falls within a floodplain, a civil engineering consultant can provide conceptual designs to maximize your site, and in some cases, use the floodplain area for open space or stormwater management. It’s advantageous for your civil and architectural design teams to collaborate on the overall design and consider vertical options in terms of development.

Raise It Up

Sometimes, circumventing floodplain challenges is as easy as raising the site to elevate the buildings out of the floodplain (which will also save you money on costly flood insurance!). A qualified design professional can evaluate this potential option without having to invest in a costly, in-depth study of the area.

Choose the Right Consultant

With an approximate nine to twelve-month lead time for the FEMA approval process, there is no time to waste. Retain a qualified civil engineer who understands how FEMA, the municipality and the regional Department of Environmental Protection agency work together to affect the final approval. A consultant with this foresight can typically provide a more accurate timeline and cost estimate, and will assist in working to keep the project on schedule.

Turn floodplain fear into empowerment by recognizing that your floodplain site could hold more potential – and profitability – than you think. Bohler’s FEMA team specializes in floodplain due diligence, forecasting, design and approvals.

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