The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council will consider an ordinance at a special meeting next week that would make it easier for flood-affected homeowners in the parish to rebuild without having to elevate their homes.
Currently, the city-parish Unified Development Code requires that any property in the flood zone that sustained damage equal to or more than 40% of its fair market value must be elevated. The proposed ordinance would raise the threshold to 50%.
“We want to make it 50% so fewer people would have to raise their homes,” says Metro Councilman Trae Welch, who is sponsoring the ordinance. “This loosens up the ordinance enough so it has less of an effect over a greater number of people.”
Additionally, the proposed ordinance would change a provision in the existing building code that requires properties to be elevated to one foot above the height of the highest flood on record. Welch wants to exclude the Aug. 12 flood, which has been categorized as a 1,000-year flood.
“I don’t want to have to count this as the record inundation,” Welch says.
It’s not entirely clear if the council will be allowed to discount the recent flood. Welch says he is awaiting information from the city’s floodplain manager, but that there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding this pressing issue.
“I know we can change the threshold from 40% to 50%, but we don’t want to have to count this latest flood as the record for inundation,” Welch says. “I’ve been told we can pass it because even FEMA hasn’t done their analysis so there is not a map out there, but we’re still awaiting some answers.”
The council meets at 5 p.m. on Wednesday on the ninth floor of City Hall, 222 St. Louis St.