York County municipalities wrestle with federal flood map changes


Municipal officials are scrambling to comprehend new FEMA regulations on floodplain ordinances and learn how they'll affect York County municipalities.

About a month ago, the Federal Emergency Management Agency imposed regulations for mapping floodplains and updating ordinances.

The statewide order gives municipalities about four months to hire contractors to remap the floodplain and then update township ordinances to reflect rezoning. Ordinances must also adopt terminology changes to comply with FEMA standards.

Deadline: The deadline is Dec. 16 of this year. If a municipality does not make the changes by Dec. 16, it will lose its eligibility to participate in FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP.

In addition to fighting against the narrow time window, municipalities are contending with thin budgets.

Windsor Township zoning officer Kipp Allison said Windsor and other municipalities will struggle to find the funds to hire a contractor and then make the necessary ordinance revisions.

"It's a big hiccup," he said, "but it has to be done."

Insurance: Residents could be required to purchase flood insurance under the new regulations.

Allison said some mortgage companies could force homeowners — with the threat of losing their loans — to buy insurance.

At a recent Springettsbury Township Planning Commission meeting, board members held a work session to adopt FEMA's regulations.

Director of community development Trisha Lang led members through a condensed checklist of the ordinance changes.

After more than an hour of discussion, members inserted multiple changes to the ordinance terminology and definitions.

Dallastown Borough Council solicitor David Jones recently introduced the issue to council members.

The borough does not participate in the NFIP because it is not located within a floodplain.

Likewise, Red Lion has not participated in the NFIP because it does not stand within a floodplain, according to Diane Price, the borough manager.

Both boroughs, along with other local municipalities, are expected to work through possible ordinance changes over the next several months.