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Flood maps updated, zoning ordinance amended


May 17, 2013
By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD — After correcting an error made by the Federal Management Agency (FEMA) in establishing updated flood zones, the Conservation Department released the flood ordinance changes earlier this month in order to preserve the town's eligibility for the National Flood Insurance Program.

The changes to the Flood Hazard Overlay Zoning Ordinance will go into effect on July 16. The ordinance states that the allowed uses remain unaltered despite the flood districts being "superimposed" on the affected zoning areas.

For some residents, living within a flood zone will require them to purchase flood insurance. For others, purchasing a flood insurance policy is merely recommended. To review the updated flood ordinance and zones, visit the "Special Flood Hazard Information" section online at www.west-springfield.ma.us/Public_Documents/WSpringfieldMA_Conserve/index.

When FEMA released its preliminary flood zone designations, a large portion of the area surrounding Block Brook was incorporated into the flood district. After Mark Noonan, conservation officer and assistant planner for the town, reviewed the changes, he discovered that FEMA had referenced outdated maps, causing a larger flood zone than needed.

At an informational meeting conducted in December for residents living in flood zones, Noonan addressed the error with FEMA and had it corrected.

Mayor Gregory Neffinger said that the goal of the meeting was to educate residents on the changes.

"I approach issues from the perspective of a tax payer. I ask myself how I would deal with a situation and how I feel about it. The meeting format has proven useful," he said, adding that informational meetings have taken place to address other issues.

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