South Side OKs floodplain ordinance

The South Williamsport Borough Council approved the revision of its Flood Plain Management Ordinance Monday night by a vote of 8-0.

Voting in favor were Jeff Tompkins, Daniel Cupp, Henry Frey Jr., Robert Cronin, Ed Weinhoff, Richard Harris Jr., Joe LaRue and J. Bernard Schelb. Councilman Tony Mussare was absent.

As part of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act passed last year, municipal governments are required to revise their flood plain maps to meet new standards set by the National Flood Insurance Program.

Ordinance 2014-01, effective immediately, replaces Article 18 of the borough’s current zoning ordinance and existing flood plain map. It includes requiring permits for construction or development within areas subject to flooding and establishing requirements for new construction and procedures for variances from the ordinance.

Cathy Weber, of South Williamsport, was not happy with the new map.

“All of Main Street, up until our property, is exempt except for ours,” she said.

Weber expressed frustration that the government is in charge of restructuring flood maps, not the borough itself. She said that their property had not flooded in the last 16 years, but that their insurance rates still are due to rise roughly $50.

Michael Miller, borough administrator, said that he sympathized with the Webers, but that “this is coming down from a federal level, not county, not borough.”

Although the new map, which goes into effect on Feb. 5, means change for some property owners, the borough escaped the extensive restructuring and insurance hikes being faced by places like Muncy and Jersey Shore.

“Overall, the borough is very fortunate,” said Mike Wylie, attorney for the Zoning Board, who was on hand to explain the ordinance and answer questions from the public. “In the previous mapping, about 90 properties were within the flood plain, but this actually lowers that number.”

He said that about 13 properties no longer will be in the flood plain, bringing the borough’s total down to about 77.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to appoint George Girio to the Vacancy Board.

The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the borough building, 329 W. Southern Ave.