Flood insurance, is it a very costly item for incorporation?
To the editor:
FEMA rules for new cities may be a very costly item for the planned incorporation of the Villages of Matlacha and Pine Island.
FEMA rules are such that new cities do not start by using their county’s ratings in getting discounts for flood insurance. Lee County’s rating of working with FEMA is a 5 out of 10. The 5 rating gives everyone in unincorporated Lee County a 25 percent discount in their flood insurance, A new city has no ratings therefore all of its homeowners and businesses will face an automatic increase in their flood insurance of 25 percent.
One would think that paying an additional 25 percent for flood insurance would resolve the FEMA issues, but it doesn’t, it just starts it. FEMA will then come into a new city and look at the present violations that it already knows exists among homeowners for having taken their 7-foot or more high buildings that were built to meet flood code and have made the space below into any kind of useable area other than a storage or a place for cars. They will also look at the violations of home improvements where the home was improved by over 51 percent over a rolling 5-year period. These violations may have to be corrected by the home owner by either raising their home to the required 7 feet or by removing the non-complying areas either under their home or, in the case of improvements, removing them in order for the new city to get any future dis-counts. FEMA could put the entire city on probation for non-compliance if their review and recommendations for actions aren’t done by the city. FEMA could also deny the city an opportunity to get any future discounts on their flood insurance.
In a worst case possible, FEMA could use non-compliance as a means to deny payment of any flood insurance losses to all homeowners in the city even though they have paid their flood insurance. Failure to get any flood insurance would also lead to banks to call in mortgages and no new bank mortgages would be made.
The costs of incorporation to the homeowners and businesses in hiring a person to work with FEMA and enforcing the regulations on existing and future homes needs to be shown in the cost analysis for the planned city. It hasn’t been done by the consultant hired by GPICA and it should be added and shown so that the folks know and understand how much additional taxes will have to be raised in order to meet FEMA requirements for flood insurance.