New legislation to restrict development in floodplains

Monday, October 25, 2010 at 11:45pm

A Metro Council ordinance that would prevent any new development from being built in Nashville’s floodplain will be scrapped.

In its place could come a less-sweeping bill that would require developers in flood prone areas to build structures in a way that has “no adverse impact” on the surrounding community. If approved, builders in Nashville’s floodplain would have to demonstrate that their development would not increase the surrounding area’s flood height or water velocity.

Metro Councilman Darren Jernigan, who filed the original legislation following May’s historic flood, said the decision to withdraw his bill came after meeting with developers, Metro water department officials and other stakeholders. A second meeting to discuss the floodplain bill is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28 in the council chambers.

“What we’ve come up with is the ‘no adverse effect’ language,” Jernigan said of the new bill, which he plans to file in November.

Councilman Jason Holleman, who is prepared to cosponsor Jernigan’s new bill, said developers who build in Nashville’s floodway — the area most susceptible to flooding — are already prohibited from constructing anything that causes a “rise in the area of flooding.”

“The fundamental thing that would happen if we adopt [the ‘no adverse’ impact bill] is that same standard would be expanded to include the entire floodplain as opposed to just the floodway,” Holleman said.

The “no adverse impact” approach to regulating floodplain development has been employed by municipalities across the nation. Proponents say it’s a way to enforce sound land use management policy while not infringing on property rights.

Jernigan’s bill would be two-pronged. He said he also plans to include language that would establish a group of engineers, stormwater experts, Metro council members and others to offer flood management recommendations that would be combined into a separate ordinance.

Jernigan called the panel a “committee of all the stakeholders that need to be a part of this.”

2 Comments on this post:

By: Kosh III on 10/26/10 at 11:47

There should be no development in floodways or the "100 year" floodplane. It should be returned to it's natural state. Owners should be fairly compensated.

Instead, we will get window dressing which will allow business as usual until the next catastrophe.

By: freddy on 10/26/10 at 1:07

Too true. The weird thing is why on earth would a developer want to construct something in a floodplain in the first place? And structures displace water, so it's disingenuous to say that they'd allow a structure that wouldn't do that. Hell, it's Federal law, at least in the floodway portion. My home was flooded May 2, and the only way i could get a permit to rebuild (again, who would want to?) would be if I built my home 12 feet in the air. But I couldn't truck in dirt to build a small hill, because that would force more floodwater onto my neighbor's property.