Why do local officials permit building of HOA, condo communities on a flood plain?

Members of neighborhing HOA voice concerns about new development
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

No matter how many properties are damaged or destroyed by floods each year, developers and home builders keep pushing to build new communities on the 100-year flood plain.

It’s important for readers to understand that the chance of a property sustaining flood damage in a 100-year flood plain is NOT once every 100 years. Flooding is fairly common over the course of a 30-year mortgage.

According to the USGS: (emphasis added)

The 1-percent AEP flood has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year; however, during the span of a 30-year mortgage, a home in the 1-percent AEP (100-year) floodplain has a 26-percent chance of being flooded at least once during those 30 years! The value of 26-percent is based on probability theory that accounts for each of the 30 years having a 1-percent chance of flooding.


The 100-Year Flood—It’s All About Chance (USGS) by Robert R. Holmes, Jr.

Typically, home buyers and homeowners don’t understand the true risk of a flood, because it is not fully disclosed to them.

Unfortunately, in many cases, a homeowner will not purchase flood insurance, believing that their home is flood proof.

What’s the typical reason that local planning board of various municipalities and Counties continue to build homes at risk of flooding? In a word, affordability. The land tends to be relatively cheap to purchase. And, if located adjacent to developed neighborhoods, utilities are easily accessible.

While this theoretically translates into a lower purchase price, the cost of owning and maintaining a property in a floodplain will include maintaining flood insurance or clean up and repair following floods, or both.

Yes, engineers working for developers create plans to alter elevation of homes and infrastructure, and to divert water to canals and retention areas. These measures, if accurately planned and built according to those plans, can help to prevent property damage.

But experience from major flood events in the U.S. over the past few decades proves that typical storm water and flood control measures do not guarantee that a flood will never happen.

That explains why FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is going broke.

Here’s a typical example of a new development proposal under consideration in Columbia, Missouri.

Owners from a neighboring HOA community voice their concerns about new development on land that floods every spring.

But the general gist of the discussion is that the developer can find ways to get around that inconvenient fact, generating additional taxable parcels and greater property values for some homeowners in West Columbia.

How misguided is that mindset?

Proposed West Columbia subdivision in 100-year floodplain

Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:07:00 PM CDT in News

By: Aaron K. Ladd, KOMU 8 Reporter Share:

COLUMBIA – A group is looking to bring a new residential neighborhood to Columbia’s westside. Subject to zoning and annex approval, the site is located north side of Gillespie Bridge Road and West Louisville Drive.

Crockett Engineering Consultants presented locator maps to the Planning and Zoning Committee Thursday night for the 54-acre residential plot of land to be named “Perche Ridge.”

However citizens who live in the area said the proposed development encroaches on a 100-year floodplain.

“I cannot in my right mind support this,” said committee member Michael MacMann. “There’s a really serious water issue here.”

Tim Crockett said despite citizens’ concerns the area can still sustain the new subdivision.

Read more (Video):



More details, see also:

Planning and Zoning Commission opposes proposal to develop Perche Ridge subdivision (Columbia Missourian)



Further Reading:

Trump Slashing Funding To National Flood Insurance Program Can Cause Rates To Go Up (Forbes)

Can FEMA’s Flood Insurance Program Afford Another Disaster? (NPR)

Less than 20% Harvey victims have flood insurance as FEMA braces for tons of claims (USA Today)

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