Beach House buried in sandAny of us who have worked in more than one coastal community know this simple truth: there’s no one-size-fits-all activity to make communities safer from storms and flooding. Geography and geology vary. Community goals and political climates vary. Organizational structures within communities vary (Do you have a mayor? A town manager? A Board of Selectmen?).

However, we at StormSmart Coasts are obsessed with making sure that things worth sharing get shared, especially if they’re designed to be shared. And we’ve got one such sharable thing today.

It’s called the Model Bylaw For Effectively Managing Coastal Floodplain Development, and it was created by a partnership of people working at Woods Hole Sea Grant, the Cape Cod Commission, and the University of Hawaii Sea Grant.

The bylaw this team assembled is built on the premiss that local floodplain ordinances are extremely effective at reducing storm damage (preventing $1.1 billion in losses a year), and that the the most effective ordinances guide two aspects of coastal or waterfront buildings: siting and elevation. Specifically, they regulate these two aspects during permitting and initial construction.

The document (which includes both an introduction/explanation, and the regulatory bylaw itself) walks the reader through both the reasoning behind the bylaw and what the reader needs to do to adapt it to his or her municipality.

How hard is it to adapt? Surprisingly easy. Part of it is as simple as filling in the appropriate blanks (along the lines of “add the name of your permit issuing authority here” with an italicized explanation below explaining how to decide which issuing authority the reader should consider using).

Other sections require the reader to choose from a menu of choices (e.g., “Communities need to decide what types of development, if any, they will allow in the Coastal Floodplain District.“) followed by guidance on what a community might wish to consider while making this choice.

If your community is contemplating regulations as one of its options to protect your citizens and their property (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?), this is definitely worth a look. Also have a look at our information on zoning ordinances and regulations.

You can download the Model Bylaw For Effectively Managing Coastal Floodplain Development here. (PDF)

Image by Skagman.


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