State of New Jersey Issues Emergency Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rule Amendments: Rules will impact post-Sandy Development

February 13, 2013

Author: William F. Harrison, Esq. and Erin K. Phalon, Esq. In response to the flood impacts of storms including Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently adopted emergency amendments to the Flood Hazard Area Control Act (FHACA) rules. This rulemaking incorporates the most current flood mapping and seeks to facilitate the reconstruction and elevation of structures in flood hazard areas to a safer height. The rules state that the standards are aimed at reducing future flood impacts and will reduce homeowners’ flood insurance rates. The rules also impact all construction in flood hazard areas, with a significant impact on new multi-residence buildings. The amendments require the use of the highest available State or Federal flood elevation data to determine a given site’s flood hazard area design flood elevation. The rules govern the entire State, rather than simply the coastal and Hudson River areas. The rules adopt the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFEs) for coastal and tidal waters, which were released in 2012, as the highest available flood elevation data. Final FEMA maps that are developed in partnership with NJDEP and depict NJDEP’s flood hazard area design flood elevation and floodway limit will be automatically incorporated into the FHACA rule when they are prepared by FEMA.  As new FEMA and State mapping for communities throughout New Jersey are released, they will become effective as the highest available flood elevation data. View the article (pdf)