SEPTEMBER 2015 UPDATE: Please be advised that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released new Flood Insurance Rate Maps, (FIRM) that will go into effect on March 2, 2016. These are official maps of the community, on which the Administrator has delineated both the special hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to our community, including a graphical representation of Special Flood Hazard Areas, flood hazard risk zones, 0.2% chance floodplain areas and other flood related information. No significant changes have been made to the flood hazard data on the preliminary and/or revised preliminary copies of the FIRM for Montgomery County. Anyone in Cheltenham Township with a mortgage from a federally-regulated lender, whose property in any way encroaches a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), is required to carry flood insurance. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is a federally underwritten program, provided by insurance companies through licensed insurance agents.
As part of this process, in 2014 Cheltenham Township amended and adopted a Floodplain Conservation District Ordinance, accessible on the Township website at http://ecode360.com/6449166, which incorporated certain minimum requirements that are essential in order for the community to participate in the NFIP. This Ordinance is part of Article XXI of Chapter 295 of the Zoning Ordinance, section 153 through 162.25. As part of the Letter of Final Map Determination, the Township will be making minor changes to its Ordinance, to be consistent with the FIRMs that go into effect on March 2, 2016, and is also required to have these changes adopted by an enforceable Ordinance prior to the March 2, 2016 effective date. The public hearing for the adoption of the revisions to the Ordinance is scheduled for February 17, 2016. These revisions can be accessed from the Township website at http://cheltenham.municipalcms.com/docview.aspx?docid=21934.
To determine whether your property is in the Floodplain, please click on the link for the map services center at http://msc.fema.gov/portal and type in your property address. Use the view map option or the interactive map on the left of the location map to access your property. This page also provides the option to save this information for your records.
Please note that for properties near the Brookdale Levee, and as highlighted on panel 382 of 451 (0382G) of the FIRM, this area is still under study and as such, FEMA recommends that property owners continue to carry flood insurance, until such a time as the flood hazard information in this area is updated and a new FIRM for the area is released.
Any proposed improvements in the SFHA are required to submit a Base Flood Elevation (BFE) Certificate as part of their permit application, and will need to ensure that any and all improvements are above the BFE. At completion of the improvements, an inspection of the same is required, to ensure that work was done according to the elevation certificate and building plans. For Commercial properties in the SFHA, a flood proofing certificate is required as part of the closeout of the permit.
Overview of Maps and Map Change Process for Properties
FEMA uses the most accurate flood hazard information available and applies rigorous standards in developing the FIRMs. However, because of limitations of scale or topographic definition of the source maps used to prepare FIRMs, sometimes a property’s existing structures lie out of the floodplain while portions of the property lie in the floodplain.
Recognizing that these situations do occur, FEMA has established an administrative processes or procedure that enables a change in the designation of a property on the FIRM. Through these processes, an individual who owns, rents, or leases property may submit certain mapping and survey information to FEMA and request that FEMA issue a document known as a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), accessible at the following link http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/31858, which is an official amendment to an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), typically issued to remove a property and/or structure from a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). In most cases, the applicant will need to hire a Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer to prepare an Elevation Certificate for the property.
For properties or structures that have been elevated, a Letter of Map Revision (based on fill) LOMR-F, is used, and this verifies that an existing structure or parcel of land that was elevated by fill, would not be inundated by the 1% chance flood. The link for this form is also http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/31858. This too is submitted to FEMA in conjunction with an elevation certificate.
Upon receiving a complete application forms package, FEMA will normally complete its review and issue its determination in 4 to 6 weeks. The Elevation Certificate can also be procured from your insurance agent as it is generally required for all NFIP participants. This would only be applicable if your property has always been a part of the program.
FEMA has streamlined this process even further, by designing a web-based tool specifically for licensed land surveyors and professional engineers (referred to as Licensed Professionals or LPs) and FEMA approved National Flood Determination Association (NFDA) Certified Professionals (CPs). This can be used for submitting selected Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) requests, known as an electronic Letter of Map Amendment (eLOMA), for which a determination is made automatically. To register to become an eLOMA licensed professional, please fill out the registration form at https://hazards.fema.gov.
Henry Sekawungu, Director, Planning and Zoning/Floodplain
Robert Habgood, Assistant to the Director of Planning and Zoning
215-887-1000, ext. 216 [email protected]
Useful Information (pdfs)
Useful Internet Sites
Useful FEMA Publications (pdfs)