WASHINGTON—Florida has effectively agreed to abide by federal-flood-agency rules that bar new development in flood plains without prior federal approval.
The agreement between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s Division of Emergency Management was made before Scott signed H.B. 503 on May 4.
That bill stipulates that counties and municipalities do not need any state or federal permits as a precondition for processing a development permit.
FEMA had warned Scott and other state officials March 30 that enactment of the law could result in suspension of flood insurance on the 2.06 million properties insured through the National Flood Insurance Program.
However, in an April 30 letter, FEMA accepted a compromise proposed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The letter was signed by Major P. May, FEMA regional administrator.
Under the compromise, the Florida agency is sending a circular to all participating communities “making clear that the state will take all steps necessary to comply with the National Flood Insurance Program and assuage FEMA’s concern,” William Booher, director of external affairs for the state emergency management agency told PC360.
The circular, signed by Booher, clarifies that “it is not the intention of the House Bill to jeopardize the standing of NFIP communities in Florida.”
Specifically, the circular says that, to comply with FEMA regulations, Florida “communities can issue the local permit on the condition that other required permits are obtained; or communities can hold the local permit until the applicant can show that the other agencies have issued their permits.”
The bill was recently passed unanimously by both the Florida House and Senate. The law will go into effect July 1—the height of the hurricane season.