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Middletown flood damage ordinances topic of meeting; some properties must meet requirements

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/19/19

Middletown has scheduled a June 27 public meeting in the MCSO to provide information to residents regarding flood damage ordinance requirements, according to a notice posted on the borough website …

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Middletown flood damage ordinances topic of meeting; some properties must meet requirements

Posted

Middletown has scheduled a June 27 public meeting in the MCSO to provide information to residents regarding flood damage ordinance requirements, according to a notice posted on the borough website and Facebook page.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the MCSO, which is part of the Municipal Building complex at 60 W. Emaus St.

The meeting is open to all borough residents. However, the subject is of particular interest to anyone who owns property in areas of Middletown designated as being in the 100-year flood plain, Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter told the Press & Journal.

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As determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the 100-year flood plain is an area that has a 1 percent probability of having a “flood event” in any given year.

In Middletown, the 100-year flood plain includes an area that hugs the borough’s east to southeast to southwest borders, along the areas of town closest to Swatara Creek to the east and southeast, and closest to the Susquehanna River to the southwest.

Much of the borough’s First Ward in the southwest part of town lies within the 100-year flood plain, according to a map of the flood plain that can be found on the FEMA website.

Properties in the flood plain are subject to specific requirements that are spelled out in borough ordinances.

The borough has a flood damage prevention ordinance, Chapter 158, that can be found on the borough website by going to the Public Documents section.

The borough zoning ordinance, chapter 260, also incorporates the flood damage prevention ordinance.

Since flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011, the flood plain in Middletown had not been the subject of much public attention in recent years until April.

Then, Klinepeter and borough staff told council about a report the borough had received from FEMA in March 2014, concerning potential violations of flooding regulations involving 37 properties in the flood plain.

The borough had taken no action on the report, according to Klinepeter, who became borough manager in May 2016.

Klinepeter said he first learned of the report, known as a Community Assistance Visit or “CAV” report, in 2018 when a FEMA representative came to see him.

FEMA told the borough it had to get moving on investigating the potential violations in the report.

However, Klinepeter said he could not do so until this January, when the borough hired a new special projects officer with expertise in flooding issues.

Council President Angela Lloyd had called for holding a public meeting during the April meeting, after issues related to the CAV report were presented by Klinepeter and the special projects officer, Matt Miller.

On June 13, Klinepeter told the Press & Journal the borough sent letters to all property owners identified in the CAV report, urging they attend the June 27 meeting since their properties are listed as potential violations.

The borough did not send letters to others who own property in the flood plain besides those listed in the CAV report. However, these people are welcome to attend the meeting as well, Klinepeter said.

Some of the flood plain requirements are relatively simple, such as anchoring a shed to prevent it from floating away in case of flooding.

That can be fixed by buying a kit at a home improvement store that costs about $150, Miller told council in April.

Other requirements are potentially more onerous and expensive — such as having to move furnaces and other mechanical systems out of basements, if the basement is below flood plain elevation.

There are 37 properties listed in the CAV report. Klinepeter in April emphasized that others who own property in the flood plain do not have to worry about meeting these requirements unless they are planning to do a home renovation or expansion project whose cost exceeds 50 percent of the assessed value of the property.

In that case, such a project would trigger the property owner having to comply with all applicable flood ordinance requirements, Klinepeter said in April.