Buncombe County joined the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1980 and began regulating development within the 100-year floodplain. The NFIP was created for four primary reasons:
- to guide future development away from flood hazard areas;
- to require that new and substantially improved structures be built to minimize flood damage;
- to provide floodplain residents and owners with financial assistance after floods; and
- to transfer most of the costs of private property flood losses from the taxpayers to floodplain property owners through flood insurance premiums.
Flood insurance and most types of federal financial assistance, such as mortgage loans and grants, are only available in those communities that participate in the NFIP and adopt an ordinance that meets or exceeds NFIP standards.
In our area, floodplains are the relatively low areas adjacent to rivers, streams, creeks, and lakes that are periodically inundated when water flows over the banks. Construction and re-grading of the floodplain can obstruct or divert water to other areas, limiting the floodplain’s ability to store and slow floodwater; filter sediments, nutrients and impurities; and provide fish and wildlife habitat. Proper management of development within the floodplain can help to protect lives and property, and prevent increased flooding.
Buncombe County’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance is found as Chapter 34 in the County Code of Ordinances. The ordinance regulates development within the 100-year floodplain, including new structures, additions or changes to existing structures, grading, filling, or any other manmade change within the floodplain. A permit application for activities must be submitted, with the applicable review fee.
What's Happening with Floodplain Development
Buncombe County first received flood maps and the corresponding Flood Insurance Study (FIS) in 1980. Through the efforts of the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program, and funding through the state legislature, the County has received updated maps dated January 6, 2010. The revised effective date is April 3, 2012. These maps include base flood elevation data on all waterways mapped within the 100-year floodplain, as well as non-encroachment areas.
The County also revised the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to accommodate statutory changes and reflect the new floodplain management regulations that will be applied to the special flood hazard areas shown on the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMS).
Frequently Asked Questions
Anywhere it can rain it can flood - meaning everyone lives in a flood zone. Risk levels vary. If you have not experienced a flood in the past it does not mean you are safe from future flooding. The best way to learn your individual flood risk is to locate your property on a flood map or talk to your insurance agent.
You may follow the instructions for retrieving floodplain information from the Buncombe County website shown below; or go to www.Floodsmart.gov and enter your address. You will be provided with information about your property’s flood risk, and flood insurance premium estimates for your property.
Yes, in most cases, a Flood Development Permit will be needed.
Yes. If a substantial renovation is proposed, the structure will be required to be brought into compliance with the County’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. If only a repair/alteration is proposed, only the repair/alteration will need to comply with the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.
Fees vary depending on the specific type of development that will take place in the floodplain. Current application review fees may be found attached to the Floodplain Permit Application or by consulting the Planning Department's Fee Schedule (see below). The current schedule of fees is effective as of July 1, 2011.
Download the Fee Schedule (PDF)
The permit will expire if development has not begun and been called for inspection by the Floodplain Administrator within 6 months. The permit will also expire if work stops for 12 months.
In some cases, a Letter of Map Change may be required to be submitted to FEMA.
Yes, there are floodways and non-encroachment areas in which no development can occur without an engineered No Impact study. These studies may be submitted for local review, followed by a submittal to the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management Floodplain Management Section NFIP Engineer for engineering review.
FIRM maps are available on-line from the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program. Instructions for viewing the data can be found here. (PDF)