Parish considers flood mitigation incentives

By Emily Burleigh

Calcasieu Parish is looking to institute flood mitigation incentives to promote community involvement in the Community Rating System program. These possible incentive programs were discussed at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s second “Let’s Talk Drainage” webinar.

“An incentive is basically some type of motivating factor that encourages participants, whether that is developers or residents, to participate in flood mitigation activities,” explained Jeanne Hornsby, engineering director at C. H. Fenstermaker & Associates. “All of this aligns us to be a more resilient community.”

Hornsby said these incentives could be applied to watershed, floodplain, community, and household levels.

Six types of flood mitigation incentives were discussed — floodproofing, buyout, tax exemption, code flexibility, green space and utility fee reduction.

“Communities are looking at things across the United States that include things that are possible reimbursement programs,” Hornsby said. “If a commercial building or a resident was to implement some type of floodproofing themself, over a period of time, they could get reimbursed, or partially reimbursed, for implementing this type of floodproofing.”

Floodproofing is any type of structural or nonstructural addition to a business or home that aids in reducing flood damages within that facility.

Businesses are eligible for partial or full reimbursement over time, tax breaks, or funding assistance. Households can take advantage of reimbursements and tax breaks. Similar to the local buyout program, local programs could be set up for floodproofing for commercial, and even possibly residential locations.

Hornsby wants to insure locals pay attention to the floodproofing tools they install in their homes. “Not all floodproofing elements are created the same. Right now, FEMA is working on a certification program to basically certify these different vendors.”

She explained that passive flood protection is a type of protection that activates automatically when flood waters reach a certain level. These walls rise to protect developments.

Residential properties can purchase manual floodgates or levees to prevent floodwaters from entering your home. The door systems run around $800 per door per home. These are meant for smaller flood events.

There are also incentive programs tied to Buy-Out programs that strategically incentivize participation.

“Many people, like those in Calcasieu Parish, don’t want to move. They love their families, their communities, and they love their schools. So, they don’t want to move out of where they currently live”, explained Hornsby.

Calcasieu Parish is considering modeling a program after North Carolina’s “Buy-In” program. “They put an emphasis on ensuring that those homes that were bought out, that those residents had the option to stay where they live,” she said. “Anyone that participates in their Buy-Out program gets to choose two elements in the Buy-In program.”

These elements include matching down payments, risk reduction, affordable homeownership, and affordable rental.

 

Tax incentives are a great way to promote community participation. Oregon is currently testing out on such a program, The Riparian Tax Incentive Program.

 

“In Oregon, what they’ve done is anything that you maintain or set aside 100 ft outside of your channel, you can get a tax incentive on,” said Hornsby. “What this does is encourage people to go above and beyond.”

 

“Here in Calcasieu Parish, we do have a setback off of our channels. But this would say, if a homeowner or a commercial developer would come in and set aside additional property and ensure that that area is free of development, there are some types of tax exemptions that can be pushed down to the developer or the homeowner.”

 

Development incentives were also covered during the webinar.

 

“One thing we want to ensure throughout flood mitigation is we still want to encourage development,” said Hornsby. “This is important to our growth and our economic well-being as a community.”

 

She stated that it was a goal to encourage developers to create more green space than what is required by ordinance. “The biggest thing here is you want to encourage as much set aside for green space and additional ponds or additional capacity within those ponds to help mitigate flooding,” she explained.

 

Examples of regulatory incentives that could be granted are reduced parking requirements, density bonuses, and flexible design standards. Financial incentives, such as reduced fees and the sale or donation of public land for flood mitigation purposes.

 

“There are things that need to be worked out and definitely things would need to be set up, but these are just examples and things we want to present,” said Hornsby.

 

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury will be hosting two more informational webinars for the public. These sessions are scheduled for August 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m: Policies, and on September 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m: Projects.

 

For more information, please call 337.721.3700 or view recordings of previous webinars on the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s youtube channel

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