The East Greenwich Town Council approved a new “flood hazard areas” ordinance Monday night, an action required for the town’s continued participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. Under the new ordinance, some property owners will have to pay more for flood insurance while others will see their rates decrease.
The new ordinance is based on revised flood insurance rate maps (FIRMS) but the only East Greenwich maps that have changed are for areas near Greenwich Cove. Property owners with federally backed mortgages are required to buy flood insurance if they are in hazardous zones identified on federal maps.
One significant change affects Shore Mills condominiums at Water and King streets. Up until now, only a portion of the condo complex was classified Zone AE – which is a designation requiring owners to buy flood insurance. Under the new ordinance, the entire complex is Zone AE.
Conversely, properties on Exchange Street are no longer classified as Zone AE, but rather are in Zone X – they can buy flood insurance if they want to, but it will no longer be required.
Classification for the town's waste water treatment plant also changed. It also was moved from Zone AE to Zone X. That means lower insurance rates for the town, said Public Works Director Joe Duarte Monday.
Currently, there are 212 federal flood insurance policies in force in East Greenwich, offering more than $55.9 million in coverage, EG Building Official Wayne Pimental told the Town Council Monday night. It’s not just properties near Greenwich Cove that are required to carry flood insurance, however. Some properties near the Hunt River and Frenchtown Brook, for instance, fall within designated areas requiring flood insurance. But those maps did not change.
The maps were done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), not the town, Pimental stressed, noting the town could do nothing to change the designations.
FEMA has been re-mapping the whole state.
An article in the Providence Journal Thursday highlighted a huge issue for homeowners who have to buy flood insurance: The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012 essentially phases out the government subsidies that have helped keep premiums more affordable. Taxpayers will see relief while policyholders will see their premiums incrementally rise to market rates, as much as 25 percent a year.You can find more information about the national flood insurance program here.