Several options exist for communities to permanently protect certain areas. Permanent protection is especially appropriate for areas where flooding is so frequent or severe that any development would put people or property at extreme risk, or for areas that provide significant storm protection for development. Your community may wish to set aside these high-risk areas as parks, recreation areas, or other greenspaces. For some potential funding sources, see the funding section.
The following are some ways coastal communities around the nation are creating no-build areas:
- In Massachusetts, the town of Chatham has a bylaw prohibiting new residential construction in their entire mapped floodplain. See StormSmart Fact Sheet 3, A Cape Cod Community Prevents New Residences in Floodplains (PDF, 5.52 MB).
- Establishing setback lines for new construction can help keep structures away from shorelines and hazard-prone areas (such as those with high erosion rates). For an overview of setbacks, see the Construction Setbacks webpage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
- Similarly, see NOAA’s Protecting the Public Interest through the National Coastal Zone Management Program: How Coastal States and Territories Use No‐Build Areas along Ocean and Great Lake Shorefronts (PDF).
- Maine has adopted a series of regulations to strictly limit new construction and reconstruction in coastal dunes, including a prohibition of structures likely to be damaged by erosion within a 100-year period of time. See Maine’s Coastal Sand Dune Rules (WORD, 130 KB).
- The “rolling easement” approach is an innovative regulatory framework modeled after an existing Texas law that allows people to use their land as they will, but prohibits them from stopping the natural advance of the ocean. For an overview, see Rising Seas, Coastal Erosion, and the Takings Clause.
- For many more resources, check out NOAA’s great new Coastal Climate Adaptation’s “Adaptation Policy and Legislation” page.
* Your community needs only 500 points to qualify for reduced flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System (CRS). For more information (including how to apply for the CRS program), see our Community Rating System (CRS) primer.
Notes from the folks at CRS:
“One of the best ways to prevent flood damage is to keep flood-prone areas free of development. In addition to flood protection benefits, preserving open space can greatly enhance the natural and beneficial functions that floodplains serve. Additional credit is provided where open space parcels are protected with deed restrictions and when these areas are in an undeveloped natural state, have been restored to a natural state, or protect natural and beneficial floodplain functions.”