Margate approves building ordinance reflecting FEMA maps

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MARGATE – A measure approved Thursday will allow property owners to build to the elevations specified in the Federal Emergency Management Agency advisory base flood elevation maps without obtaining a variance.

In a special meeting held Thursday, Jan. 31, the Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance 2-0 allowing a property to be built, rebuilt or raised to the city’s existing regulations or to the advisory base flood elevation maps issued by FEMA. Commissioner Maury Blumberg was absent, but he approved the ordinance introduction earlier this month.

The ordinance received an amendment prior to adoption after resident Peter Weiss suggested that properties be required to have a finish first floor elevation 1 foot above the base flood elevation in the A zone and 2 feet above the base flood elevation in the V zone as per FEMA requirements.  

The ordinance stipulates that a licensed surveyor certify the finished floor elevation.
Certifications submitted after March 1 are required to follow the North American Vertical Datum of 1988. Elevation certifications submitted prior to March 1 in the previous standard, National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929, must be converted to the newer standard and certified by a licensed surveyor.

In Margate, the conversion is the 1988 datum equals 1.296 feet less than 1929 datum.

The ordinance allows building height to be calculated by the finish floor elevation to the highest point of the roof surface. The finished floor elevations will be raised between .3 and 5.3 feet depending on which zoning area the property falls into. Currently, the first floor building elevation is 11 feet.

The ordinance includes provisions that allow for steps to encroach on zoning setbacks and for landscaping less than that which is typically required to accommodate stairs, steps or ramps into a property. It requires area below the finished floor be limited to parking, building access or storage. There is an allowance for the finished floor to be raised to allow for proper crawl space clearance.

Whether development is undertaken using the base zoning or under FEMA advisory maps, the applicants for land use and building permits must sign a disclaimer acknowledging the city has provided the most accurate information available to the applicants but the decision lies with the individual. Essentially it states applicants are proceeding with development at their own risk.

The advisory base flood elevation can be found at the FEMA website, where residents can put in their address to find out their specific information.

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